Hours before killing a family of three in a fatal car crash, an off-duty LAPD officer posted a video on Instagram from a bar with the message: “#dontdrinkanddrive.” Responsible for causing the deaths of a high school student and his parents, the officer was arrested on suspicion of driving while intoxicated and vehicular manslaughter.
Around 7 p.m. on Tuesday, off-duty LAPD Officer Edgar Verduzco posted a video from a bar in Whittier depicting a cartoon character sitting a car next to two unfinished drinks. The animated driver repeatedly honked his horn before the 10-second video ended with the message: “#dontdrinkanddrive.”
At 10:15 p.m., Verduzco was driving his 2016 Chevy Camaro along the 605 freeway when he rear-ended a Nissan and collided into a Toyota Scion. According to the California Highway Patrol, the Nissan burst into flames on impact with three occupants trapped inside the burning vehicle. Family later identified the occupants as Maribel and Mario Davila and their teenage son, Oscar, from Riverside.
As a result of the crash, Verduzco reportedly suffered a broken nose while the driver of the Scion sustained minor injuries. Suspected of driving while intoxicated, Verduzco was placed under arrest with his bail set at $100,000.
In a statement issued on Wednesday, LAPD Chief Charlie Beck wrote: “The Los Angeles Police Department has learned that one of its off-duty police officers was involved in a traffic accident on the 605 Freeway late last night, that resulted in the tragic death of three people. According to the California Highway Patrol, who is investigating the crash, our officer was arrested for suspicion of DUI. The Department sends its deepest sympathies to the families of the victims in this horrific collision. The LAPD has initiated an administrative investigation and will work with the CHP as they continue their investigation, however, the Department has no tolerance for driving under the influence and holds its officers to the highest standards of professionalism both on and off-duty.”
Although police officials have not confirmed whether the Instagram account belongs to Verduzco, the account does contain several videos and photos of Verduzco holding the camera while driving in his patrol car and displaying his Camaro. The first image uploaded to the account was a photo of his Camaro.
“I cannot tell you how angry and disappointed I am that a Los Angeles Police Officer would disregard the law and cause an accident with such awful, awful consequences,” Beck stated during a press conference on Wednesday.
According to Beck, Verduzco was an Army veteran who joined the department two years ago. Beck described the 26-year-old officer’s career as “unremarkable.”
According to members of the Davila family, Maribel and Mario are survived by three sons.