Hit-and-run suspect David Francis Cepeda Pangilinan
Hit-and-run suspect David Pangilinan. Photo courtesy El Cajon Police

A suspect who was wanted for injuring an El Cajon police officer last December has been arrested by Los Angeles police officers, authorities said Sunday.

The Los Angeles Police Department’s Rampart division announced the arrest of David Pangilinan, who had a felony warrant and was wanted on suspicion of injuring El Cajon Police Officer Nick Cirello, authorities said.

Cirello was seriously injured when he was dragged down an El Cajon street by a rental SUV driven by a fleeing motorist, then was struck by another vehicle.

“We are elated to announce that thanks to LAPD Rampart, David Pangilinan, the suspect who injured Officer Cirello, has been arrested,” the LAPD tweeted Sunday. “Rampart Narcotics Enforcement Detail arrested Pangilinan and recovered a loaded gun and a large amount of drugs & money. Great job & THANK YOU.”

The events that led to the vehicular assault on Cirello, who has been a member of the East County agency for two years, began when officers responded to a report of a Volkswagen SUV blocking the roadway in the 100 block of West Washington Avenue.

Inside the illegally parked vehicle were a sleeping man and woman, police said.

“When officers woke the occupants, the driver provided identification for someone other than himself and officers began to investigate,” ECPD Lt. Randy Soulard said. “During this contact, the driver suddenly started the vehicle and began to put it into gear.”

While trying to detain the man behind the wheel and keep him from driving off, Cirello was trapped partially inside the SUV and was pulled down the street until another moving vehicle hit him, sending him tumbling onto the roadway as the fleeing motorist sped away.

Police later found the Volkswagen, which belongs to a San Diego car rental company, abandoned a short distance from where the officer was injured.

Investigators subsequently identified the driver as Pangilinan and obtained an arrest warrant for him, police said.

— City News Service

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.