A CHP officer shot to death a Southern California man who "started choking her" after she stopped to check a car along Highway 29 south of Lower Lake, authorities said Thursday.

Lake County District Attorney Don Anderson, whose office is investigating the Wednesday afternoon shooting, said the man also tried to grab the officer's gun during the struggle.

He said investigators had conducted a preliminary interview with the officer and witnesses at the scene.

Neither the name of the officer nor the man killed were being released, he said.

The incident began at about 2 p.m., when the officer spotted the car in a turnout along Highway 29, Anderson said.

The officer was outside her patrol car, radioing in information about the vehicle when the man approached and assaulted her, he said.

"He started choking her," Anderson said.

They fell to the ground and struggled as the man tried to grab her gun, he said. The officer pulled her weapon from her holster and fired one shot, striking the man in the torso, Anderson said.

The man got back into his car and tried to leave. He drove about 30 or 40 yards before veering off the road, through a fence and into a vineyard, Anderson said. He was found dead in the car.

The car had been reported stolen from Anaheim. There also were warrants out for the man's arrest. It doesn't appear the officer knew that when she was assaulted, officials said.

The man had a criminal record that included arrests on suspicion of violence on peace officers, sexual assault and drug offenses, Anderson said.

He said the incident reminded him of a 1981 case in which a Lake County sheriff's deputy was killed after stopping to check on a couple with a flat tire.

Sgt. Richard Helbush was watching the woman rummage in her purse for a nonexistent driver's license when her boyfriend shot him three times in the back and once in the head.

The last time a CHP officer was involved in a fatal shooting in Lake County was in 2006. Lamar Peters, a member of the Elem Indian Colony, was shot and killed after a 50-mile car chase that began in Colusa County and ended in Clearlake Oaks. He was shot as he appeared to drive at a CHP officer.

The last CHP officer-involved shooting in Sonoma County was in 2001. That man survived.

Staff Researcher Janet Balicki contributed to this report.

You can reach Staff Writer Glenda Anderson at 462-6473 or glenda.anderson@pressdemocrat.com.