Courts & Law

Carjacker is sentenced to 19 years-plus

A CARJACKER from Garden Grove pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 19 years and four months in state prison (Shutterstock).

A Garden Grove man who carjacked a woman and led police on a televised high-speed pursuit that ended with the suspect being bitten by a police K-9, causing the dog to lose its front teeth has pleaded guilty.

Antonio Padilla Jr., 38, was sentenced to 19 years and four months in state prison.

Padilla pleaded guilty Thursday to one felony count of carjacking, one felony count of assault with a deadly weapon on an officer, one felony count of assault with a deadly weapon, one felony count of assault on a police animal and one count of felony evasion.

Padilla was arrested on February 26, 2018, a week after he attempted to run over a Garden Grove Police motor officer who had pulled him over for speeding and was writing him a ticket. The officer managed to jump out of the way and was not harmed.

Garden Grove police tracked Padilla’s vehicle to Santa Ana on February 26, 2018, and asked Santa Ana police to assist in stopping the defendant.

Padilla refused to stop for police, and began driving more than 60 miles an hour on surface streets while running stop signs and traffic lights.

The high speed pursuit continued into the City of Irvine, where he dragged a 22-year-old woman out of the SUV she was driving and carjacked her. The woman’s brother witnessed the carjacking and began struggling with Padilla. While the two men struggled, Padilla accelerated the vehicle, narrowly missing hitting the carjacking victim’s brother.

Padilla continued the pursuit in the carjacked vehicle, hitting several other vehicles until he hit a raised curb, disabling the vehicle.

Padilla got out of the SUV and ran from the pursuing police officers. Sana Ana Police deployed K9 Puskas, who brought Padilla down.

While being held by Puskas, Padilla continued to hit the K9. The chase and arrest was covered live by multiple television stations.

Puskas suffered multiple injuries, including the loss of most of the dog’s upper and lower teeth, and had to undergo surgery. Puskas recovered from his injuries and returned to work patrolling the streets of Santa Ana.

“Our K-9s are invaluable assets to our law enforcement family, and it is due to the training and dedication of Puskas and his human partners that a dangerous criminal is off the streets and behind bars,” said Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer.

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