A San Diego police officer who was shot after pursuing a suspect into a drainage tunnel in City Heights testified Friday that he was wounded after wrestling with the suspect and pushing him away.
Officer Timothy Bell said he caught up with Ignacio Canela — whom officers had pursued through local streets while trying to stop him for outstanding felony warrants — and chased the suspect into the dark tunnel.
Once he got close to Canela, Bell said he fired his Taser at the suspect, but wasn’t sure if it connected. Bell said Canela crouched down, then stood up and came toward him.
The officer said he tried to use his Taser on Canela again, but it seemed ineffective. He said he tried to subdue the suspect, holding his arms behind his back.
“He said, ‘I give up, I give up,”‘ the officer testified. “I said, no you’re not, because you’re still fighting.”
Bell said he tried kneeing Canela, but pushed the suspect away when he thought he might fall.
“He spun around and shot me,” Bell testified.
The officer said he pulled his service weapon but then heard more shots. Bell said when he went to fire his gun, it wasn’t in his hand, and he proceeded to run out of the tunnel while Canela kept firing.
The five-year SDPD veteran testified that he was shot in the left arm, twice in the left hip and thigh and once in the right abdomen.
His bulletproof vest likely prevented him from suffering considerably more serious — even fatal — injuries from the stomach wound.
Bell’s testimony came on the second day of a preliminary hearing for Canela, who is charged with attempted murder and other counts.
Judge Kenneth So will decide at the end of the hearing whether enough evidence was presented for the defendant to stand trial.
At the defendant’s arraignment, Deputy District Attorney Michael Runyon said officers spotted Canela coming out of a residence on Wightman Street last Oct. 24 and get into a silver Dodge SUV with a female companion.
About two months before the shooting, Canela was charged with possession of methamphetamine for sale, possession of cocaine, possession of narcotics paraphernalia and possession of burglary tools. However, he failed to appear in court to face the charges, and warrants for his arrest were subsequently issued.
Canela, 31, allegedly led officers on a high-speed chase down city streets, driving close to a children’s park and nearly hitting a pedestrian, Runyon said.
The officers tailed the vehicle onto nearby state Route 15, waited until a police helicopter arrived over the area and tried to pull over Canela as he exited the freeway onto Adams Avenue.
Canela eventually reached a dead end in the 3000 block of Central Avenue. There, he and the woman jumped out of the SUV, which continued rolling and went down a brushy slope, Runyon said.
Bell testified he pursued Canela into the canyon and eventually into the drainage tunnel.
— City News Service