San Diego

Man Accused of Punching El Cajon Officer Unconscious to Undergo Psychiatric Evaluation

Even when the officer -- a 28-year veteran of the department -- fell to the floor, the suspect continued to punch him, police say

A man accused of punching an El Cajon police officer unconscious -- and then continuing to assault him -- will undergo a psychiatric evaluation. 

Daniel Cook, 42, faces five felony counts of assaulting a police officer, resisting arrest with force causing great bodily injury, robbery, possession of methamphetamine and being under the influence of that drug. He previously pleaded not guilty. 

Cook was originally arrested and charged with attempted murder. After reviewing the case, the District Attorney has formally charged him with assault on a police officer instead.

His bail was set at $500,000. Prosecutor Jeff Lazar said the bail was higher than the scheduled amount for these crimes.

After Cook undergoes a psychiatric evaluation, it will be determined whether he is competent to stand trial. 

At the time of the alleged assault, Cook was a suspect in a nearby robbery case at the Dollar Tree down the street. 

Cook started attacking an El Cajon police officer when confronted about the suspected theft. He repeatedly punched the officer in the face, knocking him to the ground.

Even when the officer -- a 28-year veteran of the department -- fell to the floor, Cook continued to attack him, witnesses said. After beating the officer, Cook fled the scene.

Good Samaritan alerted police to the crime, grabbing the officer's walkie talkie and shouting for help.

Officers later apprehended Cook and he was booked into San Diego County Jail. The officer involved suffered serious head trauma and remains in the hospital.

If convicted, Cook faces 62 years to life in prison.

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