A judge heard testimony Monday from a flight officer who witnessed a pursuit in which a San Diego police officer collapsed after he was shot four times as he chased a wanted man into a City Heights drainage tunnel.
Officer Nick Minx, a tactical flight officer who videotaped the pursuit from a San Diego police helicopter, testified as a preliminary hearing got underway for Ignacio Canela, who is accused of shooting Officer Tim Bell on the afternoon of Oct. 24.
Minx, who narrated the aerial footage in court, testified that he heard Bell yell “shots fired!” soon after seeing him follow Canela.
Minx said he saw Bell come back out of the tunnel and fall to the ground, with officers nearby transmitting “11-99” or “officer down” over the police radio.
Canela, 31, was arrested a short time later in a nearby backyard. He faces 40 years to life in prison in convicted of premeditated attempted murder and other charges.
At the defendant’s arraignment, Deputy District Attorney Michael Runyon said San Diego police officers spotted Canela, who was wanted on felony warrants, coming out of a residence on Wightman Street and getting into a silver Dodge SUV with a female companion.
Canela allegedly led officers on a nine-minute high-speed chase down city streets, driving close to a park and nearly hitting a pedestrian, Runyon said.
Canela eventually reached a dead end in the 3000 block of Central Avenue. Officers chased Canela through a culvert and into the tunnel, the prosecutor said, where Bell, a five-year veteran, got into a fight with Canela and tried to subdue the suspect with a stun gun.
Bell told investigators that Canela pulled out a semiautomatic firearm and fired repeatedly, hitting him once in the lower chest above the waist, once in the left arm and twice in the lower buttocks area, according to Runyon.
Fellow officers eventually carried Bell through the canyon for transport to a hospital, where he underwent surgery. Bell’s bulletproof vest likely prevented him from suffering considerably more serious injuries, authorities said.
Canela’s preliminary hearing is set to resume June 20. At its conclusion, Judge Kenneth So will decide if enough evidence was presented for the defendant to stand trial.
– City News Service