PALM SPRINGS, Ca.
A man accused of dragging a detective for several feet with his car after being pulled over, triggering a vehicle and foot pursuit through Palm Springs, pleaded not guilty Tuesday to assault with a deadly weapon on a peace officer.
Anderzel Handel Lopez Morales, 31, of Desert Hot Springs, is also facing additional felony and misdemeanor counts stemming from the Jan. 5 pursuit that led police to establish a perimeter around Palm Springs’ Old Las Palmas neighborhood for several hours that afternoon and evening.
Morales was eventually found hiding in a tree and taken into custody.
Along with the assault count, Morales is charged with resisting or obstructing an officer, identity theft, evading arrest, vandalism, receiving stolen property and resisting arrest.
According to police, Morales was pulled over by a PSPD detective just after 4 p.m. Jan. 5 near the intersection of Alejo Road and North Palm Canyon Drive. He initially complied with the detective, but took off after a few minutes, prompting the detective to grab onto Morales as the car sped off, police said.
The detective, who was dragged a few feet before he let go, avoided serious injury, police said.
Morales then crashed his car into a curb and abandoned the car on foot near Belardo Road and Chino Drive, according to the PSPD.
Officers established a search perimeter in the area, but called off the search at about 5:45 p.m. after they were unable to locate him. Residents were urged to avoid the area, while Morales’ photo was circulated by police, with a warning that he might be armed.
Just before 8 p.m., a homeowner in the 200 block of Chino Drive found Morales hiding inside a casita and tried to keep him at the scene, but was unsuccessful. Morales kicked through the casita wall and ran, prompting a foot chase with responding officers, police said.
Morales was allegedly uncooperative during his apprehension and was Tasered before being taken into custody. Police did not find a firearm on him or within the search perimeter.
Court records indicate there was a bench warrant for his arrest at the time of the pursuit stemming from a 2015 conviction for transporting methamphetamine into the state and willful child cruelty. He was scheduled to appear in court Dec. 9 for sentencing, but skipped the hearing.
Morales is due back in court on Jan. 20 for sentencing in that case, as well as on the pursuit charges and an alleged credit card fraud and shoplifting case out of Palm Springs.