A former LAPD officer pleaded not guilty Monday to charges of murder and related offenses stemming from a suspected DUI crash on the 605 Freeway in Whittier in 2017 that killed a family of three.
Edgar Verduzco, 28, was arrested in April 2018 and charged with three counts each of murder and gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, and one count each of driving under the influence causing injury and driving with a blood alcohol content of .08% or higher causing injury. He was a police officer at the time of the crash but has since been relieved of duty, according to the Los Angeles Police Department.
On Sept. 26, 2017, authorities said, Verduzco was driving drunk south on the 605 in Whittier when he sped his Chevy Camaro into the rear of a Nissan. The Nissan burst into flames and Verduzco’s vehicle continued on and hit a second car, injuring that driver.
The three occupants of the Nissan — Mario Davila, 60; his wife, Maribel Davila, 52; and their son Oscar Davila, 19 — died in their vehicle.
“They were members of Our Lady of Guadalupe Shrine Church, volunteers in the Riverside community, supporters of the arts, and all three of them had positive influences on those around them,” a friend wrote on a GoFundMe page set up for the family.
Verduzco was speeding in the carpool lane when he rear-ended the Davilas’ Nissan in the next lane over and then struck the second vehicle, according to the California Highway Patrol.
Just hours before the crash, Verduzco had posted a video on social media from a bar and included the hashtag #Dontdrinkanddrive, KTLA-TV reported.
The Instagram post shows a man in a police uniform with a badge reading “Verduzco.” A beer is in the background of the video and an animated angry man in a vehicle is shown honking and yelling.
After the crash, CHP officers did not give Verduzco a Breathalyzer test that would have determined his blood alcohol content but said he showed signs of intoxication and arrested him on suspicion of felony DUI. He posted bail the following morning and was free pending charges until his arrest last year.
Verduzco is next due in court Oct. 10 for a pretrial hearing. He faces life in prison if convicted of all charges.