Former UC San Diego Grad Student Sentenced to Almost 23 Years for Shooting CHP Officer

Former UC San Diego Grad Student Sentenced to Almost 23 Years for Shooting CHP Officer

Officer Antonio Pacheco has still not completely resumed his previous duties, according to the San Diego Union Tribune.(CHP)

California Insider Staff

California Insider Staff

4/24/2024

Updated: 4/24/2024

A UC San Diego physics graduate student was sentenced April 23 to nearly 23 years in state prison after pleading guilty to the attempted murder of a California Highway Patrol officer in San Diego.
The incident occurred in April 2022 after 27-year-old Yuhao Du tried to grab a California Highway Patrol officer’s gun during an altercation, causing it to discharge.
CHP Officer Antonio Pacheco had pulled over alongside the freeway after Mr. Du crashed his vehicle on Interstate 8 in the San Diego area of Mission Valley, the CHP said.
The officer said when he approached Mr. Du after the crash he was unresponsive to his questions and had a “thousand-yard stare.” He said Mr. Du “appeared as if he was staring right through me.”
Mr. Pacheco testified that he reached for his radio to call an ambulance for Mr. Du after he said he wanted to kill himself and asked him “Can you kill me?”
Mr. Du then lunged for and had his hands on the officer’s weapon. Mr. Pacheco tried to get Mr. Du to let go of it by punching him with no success.
The gun then discharged while it was still in the holster and the bullet passed through Mr. Pacheco’s right thigh.
“I was convinced he was going to use that gun on me,” Mr. Pacheco testified.
Six people pulled over to restrain Mr. Du until officers arrived and arrested him, according to local news station Fox5.
Mr. Pacheco underwent a difficult recovery, but has still not completely resumed his previous duties, according to the San Diego Union Tribune.
Mr. Du had previously pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity to the charges of attempted murder and attempting to take a firearm from a peace officer.
A CHP investigator who interviewed Mr. Du testified at a preliminary hearing in late 2022 that the defendant stated he was suffering from mental health issues that left him hospitalized on numerous occasions leading up to the shooting, and that voices in his head told him to crash his car into the center median of the freeway.
Mr. Du, who was looking at a prison sentence of 40 years to life behind bars, received nearly half that sentence after pleading guilty as a part of a plea deal, according to the San Diego Union Tribune.
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