February 26, 2024
Prosecutors said the passenger placed an officer in a chokehold as he was detaining the driver.

EAST PALO ALTO – A driver and his passenger pleaded not guilty Wednesday to charges filed in connection with a DUI crash and an assault on a police officer over the weekend in East Palo Alto, prosecutors said.

On Sept. 2, Antonio Sotelo Lozano, 30, of East Palo Alto, crashed into a pair of parked, but unoccupied cars, and tried to drive away, according to the San Mateo County District Attorney’s Office.

One of the vehicle owners confronted Sotelo Lozano and tried to keep him at the scene, but he left on foot.

Officers chased and caught Sotelo Lozano. As he was being detained, Sotelo Lozano’s passenger, 23-year-old Beverly Garcia, walked up behind the officer and placed him in a chokehold, prosecutors said.

The officer could not breathe and fought off Garcia, who then walked away. Sotelo Lozano, meanwhile, continued to struggle, causing injuries to the officer, according to prosecutors.

Sotelo Lozano and Garcia are facing charges including assault with a deadly weapon, resisting an executive officer, driving under the influence causing injuries, and hit-and-run.

Prosecutors said the pair is scheduled to return to court for a preliminary hearing on Sept. 19. Bail was set at $500,000 for Sotelo Lozano and at $15,000 for Garcia.

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At the time of the incident, Sotelo Lozano was awaiting trial on allegations he sent his pet pit bull to attack officers who went to his home for a welfare check on July 22. On Aug. 1, he pleaded not guilty to two counts of assault with a deadly weapon.