A driver accused of crashing into several pedestrians and cars in Downtown Long Beach on Saturday pleaded not guilty today to a felony count of vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence.
Prosecutors said Khalid Yagobbi, 46, was working as an Uber driver and had a passenger in his car when he ran a red light at a high rate of speed and crashed into Romelia Aguilar, 60, and other pedestrians as they crossed the street at Shoreline Drive and Aquatic Way.
Aguilar was pronounced dead at the scene while five other people were transported to a local hospital with injuries, authorities said.
Yagobbi was arrested on suspicion of murder at the scene after investigators alleged he intentionally caused the crash, but on Tuesday, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s office chose to file vehicular manslaughter charges against him.
Prosecutors declined to explain why they forwent a murder charge beyond saying that vehicular manslaughter was the “charge that is supported by the evidence that was presented at the time of filing.”
Long Beach Police did not immediately respond to a request from the Post asking if they still believe the crash was intentional. Police have not disclosed a potential motive, but they have confirmed there is currently no evidence that the incident is related to terrorism or the ongoing violence in Gaza and Israel.
During his arraignment, Yagobbi pleaded not guilty and his bail was reduced from $2 million to $50,000.
Yagobbi previously ran a rug store in Los Angeles, according to public records.
In 2022, he was convicted of stealing more than $100,000 in Persian rugs from sellers after he told them he had a customer with a large mansion who wanted Persian rugs for every room, according to the District Attorney’s office.
“The sellers gave Yagobbi rugs on a seven-day consignment with a contractual agreement that he would pay them the money for the rugs once sold or take back the unsold rugs at the end of the consignment,” the District Attorney’s office said in an email. “Yagobbi instead went to other rug dealers to sell them the rugs. The original rug sellers never received money or their rugs back.”
He pleaded no contest to grand theft in that case and was sentenced to two years in county jail.