The Coast News Group
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David Avila is accused of attacking the occupants of three vehicles just before 4 p.m. on July 14 in Oceanside. File photo

Man tased by police pleads not guilty to Oceanside carjack spree

OCEANSIDE — A man accused of wielding a knife while carjacking one person and attempting two other carjackings within a 10-minute span in Oceanside before he was arrested with the aid of a stun gun pleaded not guilty today to six felony counts.

David Avila, 32, is accused of attacking the occupants of three vehicles just before 4 p.m. on July 14. His violent arrest prompted Oceanside’s police chief to order an internal investigation. Avila is charged with assault with a deadly weapon, carjacking, attempted carjacking and carrying a concealed dirk or dagger.

Deputy District Attorney Ted Minahan said Avila broke out the driver’s side window of one victim’s car with a knife, but the victim was able to drive away.

A second motorist was allegedly punched by Avila, who then put a knife to the victim’s neck, according to the prosecutor.

The occupants of a third car witnessed Avila holding the knife to the second victim, and someone in that car called 911, Minahan said, leading Avila to run after the car as it drove away to the end of a cul-de-sac. The occupants of the third car then ran from the vehicle with its engine still running and fled into one of the victims’ homes nearby, the prosecutor said.

Avila allegedly then got into the car, drove off and later got into a fight with an unknown man. He was arrested shortly after that. The arrest was recorded on a bystander’s cell phone and the video was spread over social media.

One day after the incident, the Oceanside Police Department released side-by-side footage from the cell phone video and an officer’s body camera. In the videos, the suspect appears to have dropped the knife to the ground and has both hands on his head as one officer approaches from the front and two approach from behind.

The man appears to kick something on the ground, possibly the knife he had dropped. He then takes a few steps forward while shouting at the officers, with his hands still on his head.

As this was happening, the officer in front of him can be seen taking several steps toward the man before using his stun gun. The man goes stiff and groans as he falls backward, and his head appears to hit the ground.

Paramedics treated him at the scene before taking him to Tri-City Medical Center for treatment of undisclosed injuries, police said.

In an open letter, Oceanside Police Chief Frank McCoy wrote, “I have had the opportunity to view this video and it has raised concerns with me. I have asked our Professional Standards Unit to conduct a thorough investigation into this matter.”

Avila is being held on $500,000 bail and is due back in court Aug. 28 for a readiness conference.