LAPD officer charged in off-duty crash that killed three

A Los Angeles Police Department officer was arrested Friday on charges including murder and driving under the influence in connection with an off-duty crash that killed three people on the San Gabriel River (605) Freeway in Santa Fe Springs last September.

Superior Court Judge Deborah S. Brazil ordered Edgar Verduzco, 27, to remain jailed in lieu of $6.1 million bail while awaiting arraignment, which was postponed at the defense's request to May 16 at the downtown Los Angeles courthouse.

Verduzco was charged Wednesday with three counts each of murder and vehicular manslaughter, as well as one count each of driving under the influence and driving with a 0.08 percent blood alcohol content causing injury, according to the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office.

The charges stem from a Sept. 26, 2017, crash that killed Mario Davila, 60, Maribel Davila, 52, and their 19-year-old son, Oscar Davila.

Verduzco was allegedly speeding in his 2016 Chevrolet Camaro in a carpool lane on the freeway when he struck a 2014 Nissan containing the Davilas as well as a 2010 Scion from behind, authorities said shortly after the crash.

The vehicle containing the Davila family struck a center divider and burst into flames, while the occupants in the other vehicle suffered minor injuries, according to the District Attorney's Office.

According to a GoFundMe page created on the family's behalf, the Davilas were "members of Our Lady of Guadalupe Shrine Church, volunteers of the Riverside community, supporters of the arts, and all three of them had positive influences on those around them.''

Los Angeles police Chief Charlie Beck said shortly after the crash that the department had launched an internal investigation and that it would cooperate with the California Highway Patrol in its probe of the crash.

The police chief said the LAPD "has no tolerance for driving under the influence and holds its officers to the highest standards of professionalism both on and off-duty.''

Verduzco had been with the department for two years, and had a military background, Beck said last year.

The Los Angeles Police Protective League, the union that represents LAPD officers, also issued a statement shortly after the crash that expressed "deep sorrow over this horrible tragedy.''

"There's never an excuse for driving under the influence, and if Officer Verduzco is found guilty of whatever he is accused of, then he should suffer the consequences for his reckless actions,'' the union's statement said.

The crash and the ensuing investigation resulted in the southbound lanes of the freeway in the area being closed for nearly six hours.

Verduzco was initially arrested by the California Highway Patrol shortly after the crash and was released two days later while CHP officials awaited the results of lab tests, authorities said. He was arrested in Long Beach this morning by the CHP, according to the LAPD.

If convicted as charged, he could face a possible maximum sentence of life in prison, according to the District Attorney's Office.

Copyright 2018 FOX 11 Los Angeles: Download our mobile app for breaking news alerts or to watch FOX 11 News | Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.