Trial ordered for man accused in high-speed pursuit to border - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Trial ordered for man accused in high-speed pursuit to border

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SAN DIEGO (CNS) - An auto theft suspect who was shot by officers following a high-speed pursuit that went through San Diego County and ended near the Mexican border was ordered Tuesday to stand trial on charges of assault on a peace officer, felony evading and assault with a deadly weapon.

Carlos K. Romero, a 30-year-old Riverside resident who has a 2010 conviction for assault with a deadly weapon, faces more than 10 years in state prison if convicted, said Deputy District Attorney Jerry Gonzales.

San Diego police allege Romero was driving a stolen 2007 Chevrolet Silverado truck when officers began to pursue him about 6:30 p.m. Jan. 2 on Interstate 15 near Mira Mesa.

Romero continued south and merged onto state Route 94 then southbound Interstate 5, eventually ending up in traffic just north of the border in San Ysidro.

Border Patrol Agent Scott Williams testified that Romero struck a concrete barrier, backed up into a San Diego police patrol car, then rammed the front of another SDPD patrol unit.

Williams said he got out of his marked vehicle thinking the suspect vehicle was disabled, but Romero revved the engine as if he was going to run him down.

"I had no choice but to fire duty weapon," Williams testified.

Williams he fired 13 rounds as Romero struck his vehicle and drove north in the southbound lanes of I-5.

SDPD Officer Kelly Copeland testified that he joined the pursuit in the Mid-City area and was going 100-110 mph just to keep up with the suspect vehicle. Copeland testified that he parked behind Romero once the suspect got pinned in by traffic at the border.

The officer said he started to get out of his patrol unit when Romero threw the truck into reverse and backed up onto the hood of the police car.

Copeland said he felt like the bed of the pickup truck was "in my face" and, fearing for his life, fired at least four rounds from his service weapon.

Though suffering from a bullet wound to the leg, Romero pulled a U-turn and drove off to the north in the southbound lanes of the freeway before exiting onto Camino de la Plaza. A short time later, a CHP unit performed a "pit maneuver" on the stolen truck, causing Romero to come to a halt at Dairy Mart Road and surrender without further incident.

The incident caused the U.S.-Mexico border crossing to be closed for more than five hours.

"I think it was the drugs that he was on that made him not think about what he was doing and just taking off," Romero's younger sister, Cynthia Cortez, said following her brother's arraignment Jan. 7.

She said her brother is a hard-working man who has worked in construction for the past six or seven years. She said Romero lived in Perris in Riverside County and has a wife and two daughters who live in San Diego.

Superior Court Judge Charles Rogers determined that enough evidence was presented at the preliminary hearing for Romero to proceed to trial. He set a March 12 trial date and March 4 readiness conference.

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