EL CENTRO — The Imperial County Coroner’s Office has received a toxicology report on the local man shot by El Centro police in December after he reportedly charged them while armed with a knife, an agency official reported.
However, the Sgt. Michael Mistriel, who heads the office, is not yet releasing the toxicology results on the tests done on the remains of Manuel Gonzalez Verdugo, 50, of El Centro, a coroner’s clerk said.
shot Dec. 29 by officers in the parking lot of the Rite Aid drug store at
Imperial Avenue and Main Street. An autopsy was performed and toxicology tests
to determine what, if any, foreign substances were in Verdugo’s system are
standard practice in deaths suspected of not being naturally caused.
results have also not been released.
is being investigated by the El Centro Police Department and the Imperial
County District Attorney’s Office. Neither has commented in any detail, though
a D.A. official did issue a brief statement on Feb. 19.
investigators are investigating it but it hasn’t been submitted to the (D.A.)
attorneys yet,” said Kevin Cayton, a senior deputy district attorney.
learn the status of the investigation have previously resulted in a bit of back
and forth between the police and the D.A.’s office.
release or the disclosure of information should be handled by the
jurisdictional agency, explained Cmdr. Carl Armstrong, a D.A. investigator.
this case, it will be the El Centro Police Department,” he said.
“When the investigation is concluded the decision will be made as to
whether any criminal culpability lies with the officers.”
police Cmdr. Ray Bonillas responded to a press inquiry the first week of
January with an email of an official news release. When contacted on Feb. 5 for
an update, Bonillas stated the D.A. is the appropriate source.
“I am again
going to refer you to Cmdr. Carl Armstrong with the Imperial County District
Attorney’s Office, Investigations Division,” Bonillas stated in an email.
“Mr. Armstrong may be able to assist you. We do not have the answers to
many of your questions and a few of them we cannot answer because this is still
an active investigation.”
The incident began with a 911 call about a subject who entered the Rite Aid, allegedly shoplifted several knives and told store employees to call the police because he intended to kill an officer, Bonillas previously said.
Police responded and saw Verdugo still in
the Rite Aid parking lot, he added.
to the police press release, the shooting occurred after Verdugo refused to
comply with the officers’ commands to drop the knife, brandished it and charged
One of the
officers deployed a beanbag shotgun round but it had no effect. As Verdugo continued
to advance toward the officers they feared for their safety and opened fire.
pronounced dead at the scene.
Deputy Coroner W.B. Caldwell said recently Verdugo
was not a transient as originally speculated but resided at an address in El
Centro he added he was unable to provide. Caldwell also disclosed Verdugo did
have a prior arrest record but did not provide further detail.