An El Cajon police officer is in critical condition after being dragged by a vehicle during a traffic stop that went awry Monday morning.
The officer, who has not yet been identified, was called to investigate a vehicle that was parked partially blocking the roadway on E. Washington Avenue at about 8:30 a.m. Inside the parked black SUV were two people asleep, according to the El Cajon Police Department.
When officers woke the occupants, one provided an identification card that ECPD said was not his, according to the police department. When the officer began to investigate, the driver started the vehicle and put it into gear.
"One of the officers attempted to detain the driver and keep him from fleeing the scene. In doing so, the officer was trapped in the vehicle and dragged for a distance as the driver fled," ECPD Lt. Randy Soulard said.
While the officer was being dragged, he was struck by another vehicle. At that point, he was disconnected from the SUV and launched.
The officer's injuries were significant, Soulard said. The officer was transported to a local hospital's trauma center, where he was in critical condition Monday afternoon.
Footage from SkyRanger 7 showed at least nine patrol vehicles Monday morning at the scene. Police tape roped off a stretch of E. Washington Avenue from Magnolia to Avocado avenues for an investigation.
Police said during the investigation, they learned the black Volkswagen SUV was a rental out of San Diego. It was located a short distance from the scene of the crash but the people inside had fled, ECPD said. Neither has been located.
At around 5 p.m., the ECPD identified a man believed to be involved in the incident. The man is 41-year-old David Francis Cepeda Pangilinan, according to the ECPD.
Police said they are trying to track down Pangilinan for questioning.
The El Cajon Police Department urges anyone with information to call (619) 579-3311 or anonymously call (888) 580-8477.
"To the person or persons who hit-and-run that officer, turn yourself in, dude," A resident from the neighborhood where the officer was struck said. "It's not worth it. It's Christmas time; that guy could be seriously injured. Give yourself up."
This is a developing story. Please refresh for updates.