The driver suspected of leading a Bakersfield police officer on a chase that resulted in the officer’s death pleaded not guilty Tuesday to five felonies including vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence.
Julian Carlos Hernandez, 32, is being held on $600,000 bail in connection with the early morning crash that killed Bakersfield Police Officer David Nelson. The other felonies he is charged with are evading an officer causing death, carrying a loaded gun with a prior felony conviction, being a felon in possession of ammunition, and possessing ammunition while prohibited from owning a gun.
District Attorney Lisa Green said during a press conference Tuesday she and others at the D.A.’s office looked at “many, many charges” in their review of the case, including the possibility of a murder charge. She said they carefully reviewed the evidence and filed the charges they believe they can prove at trial.
Green said she was unable to comment on certain details because of the ongoing investigation. She could not comment as to why Nelson first pulled Hernandez over, what the officer’s speed was during the chase and why a second person had been detained during the investigation.
She said the shotgun that was recovered at the crash scene belonged to Hernandez; no other weapons were recovered. It did not appear the gun had been fired.
Deputy District Attorney Jim Simson will prosecute the case.
Police have said Nelson was on patrol about 2:30 a.m. Friday when he saw a suspicious-looking silver Hyundai with paper license plates in the area of Flower and Haley streets. He stopped the vehicle and when he approached, it took off.
Nelson radioed to dispatchers that he was in a pursuit, and moments later he crashed into a block wall at Panorama Drive and Mount Vernon Avenue. The officer was taken to Kern Medical Center and pronounced dead at 3:05 a.m.
A tip led police to a residence in the 2600 block of Sunny Lane in east Bakersfield, where they detained Hernandez at mid-day Saturday. He was arrested at BPD headquarters at 11:30 p.m., and booked into jail.
Hernandez has a long criminal history, with multiple convictions for spousal abuse. He has declined to be interviewed.
Funeral services for Nelson are scheduled for Wednesday, with a local memorial service to be held at 3 p.m. July 7 at the Rabobank Theater.
People can donate to an account set up for Officer David Nelson's family at www.gofundme.com/xyxm8k.
The family has also established a memorial scholarship in Nelson's name. People can give to it at the Bakersfield City Employee Federal Credit Union, 2817 16th St.; at the Bakersfield Police Officers Association, Officer Assistance Fund, at the credit union; or via check or Paypal at www.bpoa.us.