A man accused of spraying an off-duty California Highway Patrol officer in the face with pepper spray in an attempt to rob the lawman in Old Town pleaded not guilty Friday to robbery and use of a deadly weapon charges.
Angel Blanco, 21, was ordered held on $75,000 bail. He faces six years in state prison if convicted.
Deputy District Attorney John Pro told Judge David Szumowski that CHP Officer Ken Jackman was walking home about 10 p.m. Wednesday near Juan and Taylor streets when he was accosted by three people.
Blanco asked Jackman for the time, and when the officer pulled out his cell phone, the defendant allegedly sprayed him with pepper spray -- also known as Mace or OC spray -- and demanded money, the prosecutor said.
Jackman identified himself as a peace officer, pulled his service weapon from his back pocket, and took the defendant into custody, Pro said.
The two other people with Blanco fled and are still at large, according to the prosecutor.
Pro said an investigation is ongoing into at least three other cases throughout San Diego County in which the same method of operation was used.
Anyone with information about similar incidents where Mace or pepper spray was used should call the San Diego Police Department, Pro said.
Szumowski set a readiness conference for June 21 and a preliminary hearing for June 23.
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