Off-Duty LAPD Officer Had Reportedly Posted #dontdrinkanddrive Video Hours Before DUI Arrest For Fatal Crash
LAPD Officer Edgar Verduzco, who was involved in a possibly DUI-related crash on Tuesday night that left three people dead, had posted a #dontdrinkanddrive video on his Instagram account just hours before the fatal crash, reports KTLA.
Verduzco was off-duty when the crash happened at around 10:15 p.m on the 605 Freeway in Whittier. A Chevy Camaro driven by Verduzco slammed into the back of a Nissan on the fast lane. A family of three riding in the Nissan—now identified as 19-year-old Oscar Davila and his parents Maribel and Mario, reports CBS—was trapped in the car as it erupted in flames. They were pronounced dead at the scene by paramedics.
Verduzco was arrested on suspicion of felony DUI. Lieutenant Aaron Knarr of the California Highway Patrol's Santa Fe Springs office told LAist on Wednesday that, “the officer that investigated the crash concluded that the driver was under the influence after field sobriety tests.” A CHP release described the Camaro as driving at a “high rate speed” before the crash. Verduzco is being held at the Men's Central Jail downtown on $100,000 bail.
KTLA says that, about three hours before the incident, Verduzco had posted a video with a “#dontdrinkanddrive” caption. In screenshots obtained by KTLA, the video appears to show a bar in the background, with animation superimposed over it. The animated avatar, sitting in a red car, is shown driving on the bar counter. This Instagram story was reportedly posted at around 7 p.m. (Note: given the use of a Bitmoji avatar, the screenshots appear to have originated from Snapchat, however KTLA cites the screenshots as coming from Instagram; it's possible that Verduzco made the video in Snapchat, downloaded it, and then uploaded it to his Instagram story.)
KTLA says that other items from the Instagram account indicated that it belonged to the 26-year-old Verduzco. Other images on the account showed the user in an LAPD uniform, with one showing a badge that read "Verduzco”. The LAPD told LAist that they could not verify if the Instagram account belonged to Verduzco.
The Davilas are survived by three sons, according to KTLA. In a GoFundMePage set up for the family’s memorial services, Oscar is described as “bright, lighthearted, musically talented.”
The family is said to be members of Our Lady of Guadalupe Shrine Church, and volunteers in the Riverside community. “For those who knew them, truly new them, they couldn't help but gravitate towards them due to their selflessness and kindness,” said the page.
"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," LAPD Police Chief Charlie Beck said Wednesday at a news conference, according to CBS News. Beck said that Verduzco is an Army veteran who’d joined the force two years ago, and that he’s been placed on leave.