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Man pleads guilty to dragging El Cajon police officer with SUV

Posted at 6:09 PM, Feb 17, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-17 21:09:17-05

EL CAJON (CNS) — A man pleaded guilty Thursday to felony charges for driving an SUV while an El Cajon police officer clung to the window, dragging the lawman about 200 yards and causing him serious injuries.

David Pangilinan, 42, faces nearly 10 years in prison when is sentenced for dragging Officer Nick Cirello on West Washington Avenue on Dec. 14, 2020. His co-defendant, 29-year-old Keani Flores, awaits trial.

At the defendants' preliminary hearing, Deputy District Attorney Clayton Carr said the SUV was traveling around 70 mph when Cirello fell from the vehicle, sustaining injuries that included major head trauma, a brain bleed and broken bones.

Cirello was hospitalized for nearly a week, he testified at the hearing.

el cajon police officer Nick Cirello.jpeg

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

Pangilinan, who was driving, was charged with speeding away while Cirello was speaking with the defendants. Flores is accused of removing Cirello's hands from the SUV's windowsill, causing him to fall from the vehicle.

The SUV, a rented Volkswagen Atlas, was found abandoned elsewhere in the city. According to testimony, the pair ditched the SUV near an El Cajon resident's home, 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.

Pangilinan pleaded guilty Thursday to all charges filed against him, including a count of assault with a deadly weapon on a peace officer.