Hours before he was involved in a fiery highway crash that claimed three lives, an off-duty Los Angeles police officer reportedly posted a video to his Instagram account with a “dontdrinkanddrive” hashtag.
The 10-second video appears to have been taped in a bar around 7 p.m. Tuesday, and shows a half-finished beer glass and an animated driver behind the wheel of a red car, KTLA reported.
The officer, Edgar Verduzco, is now in custody at the Men’s Central Jail in Los Angeles. He was arrested on suspicion of felony DUI and vehicular manslaughter following the deadly crash.
Verduzco, 26, an Army veteran, is being held on $100,000 bail, according to the jail’s records. No attorney is listed.
In a statement following the crash, the California Highway Patrol said Verduzco was in a Chevy Camaro speeding southbound on the I-605 Freeway southwest of downtown Los Angeles when his car rear-ended two other vehicles, a Scion and a Nissan. The Nissan exploded in flames on impact, trapping the three occupants — a still-unnamed teenage boy and his two parents from Riverside, California Highway Patrol Officer Al Perez told the L.A. Times.
The driver of the Scion, 31-year-old Berly Alvarado, complained of pain at the scene, the Mercury News reported. Verduzco suffered a broken nose.
The CHP’s Perez told the L.A. Times there were no open containers or alcohol in Verduzco’s car, but the driver showed symptoms of intoxication.
“The LAPD has initiated an administrative investigation and will work with the CHP as they continue their investigation, however the Department has no tolerance for driving under the influence and holds its officers to the highest standards of professionalism both on and off duty,” Los Angeles Police Department Chief Charlie Beck said in a statement Wednesday.
“It is particularly troubling when one of our own police officers violates drunk driving laws, which is why a drunk driving offense always results in a personal complaint which can lead to dismissal.”
The department has not confirmed that the Instagram account belongs to Verduzco. But, according to KTLA:
At least seven of the posts made this month include the page’s owner in LAPD uniform or make other references to law enforcement involvement. One uploaded in July has the poster’s name badge — reading “Verduzco” — clearly displayed.
Other posts also make reference to military service, and one posted in August shows the account owner’s official U.S. Army portrait.
At a news conference Wednesday, Beck said Verduzco had worked two years with the department and was assigned to the “central area.”
“His two years were unremarkable,” the chief told reporters. “He came to us from the U.S. Army where he did almost four years. I believe he served in Afghanistan.” The chief added later that Verduzco “worked the desk.”
“He was a very young police officer, not much time on the job,” he said. “Very unremarkable career.”
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