L.A. police officer suspected of driving drunk in crash that killed 3 is released from jail

A Los Angeles police officer who was arrested for allegedly driving drunk and causing a crash that killed three people has been released from custody without charges pending further investigation, the California Highway Patrol said Friday.

Edgar Verduzco, 26, had been in custody on $100,000 bail since Tuesday night, when authorities said he steered his speeding Chevy Camaro into the rear of a Nissan on the 605 Freeway in Whittier. The occupants of the Nissan died after their car erupted in flames.

The CHP said Verduzco did not take a breathalyzer that would show his blood alcohol content, but did show symptoms of intoxication. He was arrested at the scene on suspicion of a felony DUI.

But on Thursday night, jail records show, Verduzco was released from custody without having to pay bail.

“Basically, we have 48 hours to submit a completed investigation to the D.A.’s office,” said CHP Officer Al Perez. “However, for us to finish this type of investigation in 48 hours is not feasible.”

Verduzco was given a blood test after his arrest and the results will help determine what charges, if any, authorities recommend be brought against the officer, Perez said.

The officer will continue to be paid pending further disciplinary action by the department.

Los Angeles Police Department Chief Charlie Beck addressed Verduzco’s arrest at a news conference earlier this week.

“My heart goes out to the victims and their families, and I cannot tell you how angry and disappointed I am that a Los Angeles police officer would disregard the law and cause an accident with such awful, awful consequences,” Beck said. “This is an awful, awful thing.”

The agency has opened an administrative investigation into Verduzco and is cooperating with the CHP, he said.

Verduzco is an Army veteran who did a tour in Afghanistan and joined the department two years ago, Beck said. Verduzco was stationed at the front desk of the Central Division and has had an “unremarkable” career thus far, Beck said.

Beck said it was too early in the case to discuss discipline, but he said that if the allegations proved to be true, it could merit sending the officer to a disciplinary board for potential termination.

The Los Angeles Police Protective League also released a statement regarding Verduzco’s arrest.

“No words can express our deep sorrow over this horrible tragedy and the loss this family will carry with them for the rest of their lives,” the union’s statement said. “There’s never an excuse for driving under the influence, and if Officer Verduzco is found guilty of what he is accused of, then he should suffer the consequences for his reckless actions.”

Friends and family of the crash victims launched a GoFundMe account for them this week. Family identified them as Mario and Maribel Davila and their 19-year-old son, Oscar.

joseph.serna@latimes.com

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