A California Highway Patrol cruiser.
A California Highway Patrol cruiser. Photo via CHP

A man accused of trying to grab a California Highway Patrol officer’s gun during an altercation on Interstate 8 in Mission Valley, leaving the lawman shot in the leg, made his initial court appearance Tuesday.

Yuhao Du, 25, is accused of lunging for CHP Officer Antonio “Tony” Pacheco’s service weapon last Wednesday, causing the gun to fire as the two men grappled over the pistol.

Du was scheduled to be arraigned Tuesday, but his defense attorneys requested that he not enter a plea until next week.

He remains in custody without bail, pending his arraignment set for next Tuesday.

One of Du’s attorneys, Anna Demidchik, declined to discuss the specifics of the case, telling reporters outside court, “Honestly, nobody knows what happened at this point.”

The attorney said she hoped anyone who viewed social media videos of the incident would “hold off on judgment” until more facts came to light.

“All the videos seem to be of what happened after the alleged incident,” Demidchik said. “There is no video whatsoever showing what exactly took place immediately before and what exactly unfolded.”

The events that led to the shooting began at about 6:15 p.m. Wednesday, when Du, a graduate student at UC San Diego, crashed his vehicle on eastbound Interstate 8 near the I-805 overpass, according to the CHP.

A short time later, Pacheco pulled over alongside the freeway at the site of the wreck and contacted Du, who was standing in the center-median area, CHP spokesman Jake Sanchez said.

As Pacheco was speaking with him, Du allegedly attacked him without warning, “lunging for his service gun” and “trying to take control of it,” Sanchez said.

After Pacheco was shot in the thigh, Sanchez said “several passing motorists stopped to assist the injured officer by providing medical aid and restraining Du until additional law enforcement (personnel) arrived.”

The gunshot injuries suffered by Pacheco, who has two young children and whose wife, Janette, is pregnant, will require “a lengthy rehabilitation and potential surgeries,” according to a GoFundMe.com page seeking donations to help the family with expenses during his recuperation.

In a message dated last Friday on the page, Pacheco wrote, “My wife and I are humbled and grateful for the outpouring of support we have received. We’d like to thank everyone who has assisted us during this difficult time. From the donors, to the hospital staff, coworkers, friends, family, law enforcement, and everyone who assisted on scene. Thank you for all the love and support.”

–City News Service