A police motorcycle patrolman facing criminal charges for allegedly causing an off-duty hit-and-run accident in Serra Mesa while drunk last winter killed himself Monday at his Clairemont Mesa home, authorities reported.
San Diego police Officer David Christopher Hall's wife reported his suicide shortly before 10 a.m., according to SDPD public-affairs Lt. Andra Brown. Patrol officers found Hall dead of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound behind his Ashford Street house, she said.
Hall had been on desk duty in recent months, facing three criminal counts and a maximum penalty of up to three years and eight months in prison in connection with the alleged hit-and-run traffic collision.
About 7:30 p.m. Feb. 22, Hall's GMC Yukon crashed into another vehicle on the onramp from Murray Ridge Road to northbound Interstate 805, injuring a woman in the other vehicle. The 41-year-old patrolman allegedly left the scene before police arrived. Officers contacted him at his home a short time later and gave him a sobriety test.
On May 2, Hall pleaded not guilty to two charges of DUI causing injury, one count of felony hit-and-run and an allegation that his blood-alcohol level at the time of the crash was above 0.15 percent -- about twice the legal limit for driving. A pretrial hearing in the case had been scheduled for later this week.
Neighbors were in disbelief when they learned Hall had taken his own life.
Neighbor Lynn Thompson said Hall was "a cheerful spirit" who was outgoing with all the neighbors, often smiling and waving as he dove by. Thompson said he will be best remembered for the dazzling Christmas decorations he assembled every December.
Charles Steinmetz, who lives two doors down, said Hall was proud to be a police officer, and he was happy to have him living nearby.
"I really haven't noticed anything different [about him] but obviously something was eating at him to go out in the backyard and do what he did," said Steinmetz. "It just really makes me sad."
Steinmetz told 10News reporter Allison Ash he believed Hall took his own life to avoid facing potential punishment for the DUI he was charged with.
"He should have waited and took his punishment like everybody else," Steinmetz added.
Community activist, De Le, who lives in the neighborhood, was visibly upset that another San Diego police officer was gone. Last week, Le attended the funeral of Det. Donna Williams, who was killed along with her 18-year-old daughter, Bree.
"The circumstances might be different, but the totality is the same, that we lost an experienced officer," said Le.
At a briefing Monday afternoon, San Diego police Chief William Lansdowne confirmed that the 14-year SDPD officer had "tragically taken his own life."
Upon hearing the news late Monday morning, Lansdowne went to Hall's home, where he met with the patrolman's family "and made sure that the appropriate support systems were in place to assist them during this difficult time."
"The San Diego Police Department was very aware of the stress he was under (following his arrest) and had taken every effort to get (him) the help he needed," the chief told reporters. "In fact, our newly formed wellness unit had met with him just yesterday. Unfortunately, even with the help and support provided, Officer Hall unexpectedly decided to take his own life."
Hall, who joined the San Diego Police Department in January 1997, had served in SDPD Central Division patrol and later worked on specialized narcotics and parolee-apprehension teams. In August 2008, he transferred to the department's traffic unit, where he worked for its accident-investigations bureau until becoming a motorcycle officer in March of last year.
Over the past 30 years, 11 SDPD personnel have committed suicide, Brown said.
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