Chief pursues, arrests armed man with stolen property

Robert “Rob” Handy was settling into his seat at Coco’s waiting for his breakfast appointment to show up. What started as a typical Wednesday morning for San Bernardino’s chief of police — meeting with a Neighborhood Watch president to go over some issues — took an abrupt turn to the highly unusual.

“Hey,” Neighborhood Watch President Lloyd Roberts told Handy as he took a seat across from him. “That guy who opened the door for me is trying to sell me tools, and he’s acting strange.”

Handy, being the observant chief of police he is, had noticed a man with a backpack opening the door for Roberts.

Since being appointed police chief of the San Bernardino Police Department on Oct. 17, 2011, Handy — who spent more than 21 years at the Phoenix Police Department, ending his career there as a commander — has had his hands full, dealing with everything from budget issues exacerbated by the city’s bankruptcy to a 50-percent spike in homicides.

On this day, Handy, 44, literally would have his hands full — with a 22-year-old transient named Valid Llyas.

“OK, I’ll go check it out,” Handy told Roberts.

Dressed in a tie and blue suit, Handy appeared to be a potential customer. Llyas obliged, spreading out his tools, which included a pneumatic drill and an impact wrench, on the grass outside the restaurant. Handy also noticed a tooth-whitening kit and a lady’s watch were in his backpack.

The two negotiated a price for the tools — $50.

Knowing the items almost certainly were stolen, Handy stalled for time. He told Llyas he needed to get his wallet from the restaurant. Once inside, Handy called for a patrol car. Then he went out to stall some more.

“I told him I was a businessman,” Handy says. “He had no idea who I was.”

Handy saw the suspect using a screwdriver to scratch a name off of one of the tools. He told him he needed someone to swing by with the $50.

Wondering why it was taking so long for Handy to come up with the money, Llyas started to get nervous. The patrol car suddenly pulled up.

Llyas bolted. Handy gave chase.

Jumping on a planter in front of Coco’s, Llyas reached for his waistband. Out fell a handgun to the ground. Seconds later, Handy tackled him to the ground and helped the patrol officer handcuff him.

During the tussle, Handy scratched his prescription glasses and scuffed up his shoes and got some stains on his suit.

Llyas fared much worse: He was tossed into the back of the patrol car and booked on suspicion of being in possession of stolen goods, as well as on suspicion of being a felon in possession of a handgun with the serial numbers filed off.

San Bernardino detectives later determined the tools had been stolen earlier that morning from Angie’s Auto Center on Highland Avenue.

Handy, meanwhile, went back inside Coco’s to have his meeting with the Neighborhood Watch official – and some breakfast.

When the media caught wind of Handy’s heroics, they begged him for interviews. Handy gave a couple to local newspapers, but turned down on-camera interviews. He says he was a little embarrassed by the attention.

“For me,” the chief says, “what I did that morning was not any different from what any police officer at this agency does on a daily basis. It’s what any of them would have done.”

Share this post:

Comments on "Chief pursues, arrests armed man with stolen property"

Comments 0-5 of 0

Please login to comment