Officer dragged by SUV during traffic stop released from hospital

Local

EL CAJON (CNS) – An officer who was seriously injured when he was dragged down an El Cajon street by a rental SUV driven by a fleeing motorist, then was struck by another vehicle, was discharged from the hospital Friday.

Though he had to spend several days in an intensive care unit, Officer Nick Cirello of the El Cajon Police Department is expected to fully recover, ECPD Lt. Randy Soulard said.

The events that led to the vehicular assault on Cirello, who has been a sworn member of the East County agency for two years, began about 8:30 a.m. Monday, when officers responded to a report of a Volkswagen SUV blocking the roadway in the 100 block of West Washington Avenue.

Inside the illegally parked vehicle were a sleeping man and woman.

“When officers woke the occupants, the driver provided identification for someone other than himself and officers began to investigate,” Soulard said. “During this contact, the driver suddenly started the vehicle and began to put it into gear.”

While trying to detain the man behind the wheel and keep him from driving off, Cirello wound up trapped partially inside the SUV and was pulled down the street until another moving vehicle hit him, sending him tumbling onto the roadway as the fleeing motorist sped away.

Police later found the Volkswagen, which belongs to a San Diego car- rental company, abandoned a short distance from where the officer was injured.

Investigators subsequently identified the fugitive driver as 41-year- old David Francis Cepeda Pangilinan and obtained an arrest warrant for him.

Anyone who might be able to help police track down Pangilinan is asked to call San Diego County Stoppers at 888-580-8477 or contact the agency online at sdcrimestoppers.org. Tipsters may remain anonymous and could be eligible for a reward of up to $1,000.

Officer Cirello of the El Cajon Police Department has been released from the hospital after he was hurt during a traffic stop on Dec. 14. Photo: El Cajon Police Department

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