SAN DIEGO (CNS) - An Aug. 28 trial date was set Wednesday for an ex-con accused of opening fire on a San Diego police officer last fall while trying to evade arrest by fleeing through a drainage tunnel in City Heights.
Ignacio Canela, 31, is charged with premeditated attempted murder of a police officer and other counts stemming from the shooting last October that seriously injured Officer Timothy Bell.
Judge Kathleen Lewis scheduled an Aug. 20 readiness conference for Canela, who pleaded not guilty to the charges today during his arraignment in Superior Court.
During a preliminary hearing last month, Bell testified that he was wounded after wrestling with Canela inside the tunnel.
Bell said he caught up with Canela -- whom officers had pursued through local streets while trying to stop him for outstanding felony warrants -- and chased the suspect into the dark tunnel.
The five-year SDPD veteran testified that he was shot in the left arm, twice in the left hip and thigh and once in the abdomen.
Deputy District Attorney Michael Runyon said officers spotted Canela coming out of a residence on Wightman Street last Oct. 24 and get into a silver Dodge SUV with a female companion.
About two months before the shooting, Canela was charged with possession of methamphetamine for sale, possession of cocaine, possession of narcotics paraphernalia and possession of burglary tools. However, he failed to appear in court to face the charges, and warrants for his arrest were issued.
Canela allegedly led officers on a high-speed chase down city streets and freeways before reaching a dead end in the 3000 block of Central Avenue. There, he and the woman jumped out of the SUV, which continued rolling and went down a brushy slope, Runyon said.
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.