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Man charged with capital murder in death of Pomona officer

Man charged with capital murder in death of Pomona officer
L.A. County sheriff's deputies escort Isaias De Jesus Valencia, suspected of fatally shooting a Pomona police officer, to a waiting car Saturday. (Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)

A man accused of killing a Pomona police officer was charged with capital murder and could face the death penalty, the Los Angeles County district attorney's office said Tuesday.

Isaias De Jesus Valencia, 38, was charged with one count of murder in the death of Greggory Casillas, with the special circumstance allegations of murder of a peace officer and murder for the purpose of avoiding or preventing a lawful arrest.

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Valencia also faces seven counts of attempted murder and one count each of fleeing a pursuing peace officer's vehicle and possession of a firearm by a felon.

On Friday, police received a call about a reckless driver, and when the suspect refused to stop, he led police on a chase that ended when he crashed into a parked car. The man then ran into an apartment building, where he fired at officers from behind the door of a unit, police said.

Casillas, a 30-year-old Upland father just six months on the job, was struck by gunfire and killed. The second officer was shot in the face as he tried to rescue Casillas, authorities said. He was released from a hospital and is recovering from his wounds.

The shooting led to a standoff that ended about 15 hours later when Valencia was handcuffed and taken into custody by Los Angeles County sheriff's deputies.

Before the shooting, Valencia had a history of arrests in the Pomona area, according to public records.

Nearly three years ago, he was sent to state prison for illegally possessing a firearm and ammunition and discharging a gun in a school zone, as well as destruction of jail property, according to California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation press secretary Vicky Waters. He was out on probation roughly a year later.

Valencia had suffered from depression and drug addiction, according to Amos Young, an acquaintance who knew him through the Pomona church Kingdom of God Revelation Ministries.

If convicted as charged, Valencia faces the death penalty or life in prison without the possibility of parole. A decision on whether to seek capital punishment will be made at a later date, the district attorney's office said.

Valencia is expected to be arraigned on Tuesday.

Times staff writer Emily Alpert Reyes contributed to this report.

Twitter: @Brittny_Mejia

UPDATES:

11:25 a.m.: This post was updated with a D.A.'s statement on whether or not the death penalty would be sought.

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This article was originally published at 11:20 a.m.

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