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

A man pleaded guilty Thursday to felony charges for dragging an El Cajon police officer about 200 yards while he clung to an SUV window, resulting in major injuries.

David Pangilinan, 42, faces nearly a decade in prison when is sentenced in the 2020 case involving Officer Nick Cirello.

A co-defendant, Keani Flores, 29, awaits trial.

At the defendants’ preliminary hearing, San Diego County Deputy District Attorney Clayton Carr said the SUV was traveling around 70 mph on West Washington Avenue when Cirello fell on Dec. 14.

He suffered major head trauma, a brain bleed and broken bones and was hospitalized for nearly a week, he testified at the hearing.

Cirello initially responded to the scene because the defendants were seen sleeping in the SUV, which was parked in a resident’s driveway, according to preliminary hearing testimony.

Pangilinan, who was driving, was alleged to have sped away while Cirello spoke with the defendants. Flores is accused of removing Cirello’s hands from the SUV’s windowsill, causing his fall.

The SUV, a rented Volkswagen Atlas, was found abandoned in the city. According to testimony, the pair ditched it near an El Cajon home, then told the resident their car had broken down and asked him to call a cab for them.

Flores was arrested about a week later in the Madera County city of Oakhurst.

Pangilinan was at large for nearly a month until he was arrested at an undisclosed location in Los Angeles County.

He pleaded guilty Thursday to all charges, including a count of assault with a deadly weapon on a peace officer.

– City News Service