SDPD officer shot by wanted man in drainage tunnel testifies in court

SAN DIEGO (KUSI) — A San Diego police officer who was shot by a wanted man in a dark drainage tunnel at the end of a foot pursuit through a City Heights canyon testified Tuesday that the suspect offered to surrender while the pair were struggling, but the man opened fire when the officer lost his grip.

Officer Timothy Bell, a five-year veteran at the time of the 2013 shooting, testified that Ignacio Canela shot him in the abdomen as soon as Bell pushed him away.

Related Link: Trial begins for ex-con who allegedly shot officer in drainage tunnel

Bell said he was holding Canela’s arms from behind and the suspect said, "I give up, I give up,” but kept resisting.

The officer said he started to lose his footing and shoved Canela away.

"As soon as I pushed him away, I get shot,” Bell told prosecutor Michael Runyon. "I felt an impact.”

Related Link: Not guilty plea from ex-con accused of shooting police officer

Bell testified that he heard more shots, reached for his service weapon, but dropped it, realizing he had been shot in the arm.

At that point, the officer said he ran out of the tunnel as fast as he could.

Canela, 33, is on trial for premeditated attempted murder, evading police and other counts stemming from the Oct. 24, 2013, shooting that seriously injured Bell.

Deputy District Attorney Michael Runyon said in his opening statement that Canela shot Bell four times as they struggled in the tunnel.

"He (Canela) was trying to kill him,” the prosecutor said, telling jurors the lives of the defendant and officer intersected with "tragic consequences, almost lethal consequences.”

Related Link: Injured officer back home, ex-con behind bars after City Heights freeway chase

Runyon said Canela — who was wanted on drug charges and for failure to appear in court — led officers on a chase from a home on Wightman Street to a dead-end in the 3000 block of Central Avenue, where he ditched his car and took off running into a canyon.

Bell pursued Canela and followed him into the drainage tunnel, where he tried to use his Taser on the suspect. They got into a physical confrontation and Canela shot Bell before running through the tunnel. Canela was arrested a short time later.

Runyon told jurors that Canela also ran from police in 2004 and had a modified knife in his back pocket when he was arrested.

When asked by an officer why he ran, Canela responded, "I don’t like pigs,” Runyon told the jury.

Canela also fled from police in a stolen SUV in December 2007, crashed into a parked car and took off running before being arrested, according to the prosecutor, who said officers recovered a loaded revolver from Canela in that incident.

Defense attorney Jane Kinsey told the jury that Canela shot Bell in self-defense.

"Kill or be killed” was Canela’s state of mind when confronted by the officer, Kinsey said. He said his client was so "bent” on getting away that he jumped out of his car at the entrance to the canyon while the vehicle was still moving.

Kinsey said Bell chased Canela with no back-up, and once the officer fired his Taser three times, Canela fired his gun in self-defense.

Canela — who has been to prison several times on burglary and other charges dating back to 2004 — faces 40 years to life in prison if convicted.

Categories: Local San Diego News