The Christmas holiday means many things to many Americans. For some, it is a time to gather friends and family to celebrate. For others, it is the best time of year for office parties and other events where adults share a cocktail or two. Because some people make the mistake of drinking and driving during the holidays, local law enforcement are often out in full force looking to drivers under the influence.
This was the case on Christmas Eve last year as two California patrol officers found themselves working a drunk driving checkpoint. What should have been a festive evening turned deadly as one of the officers never made it home to his family that evening? He was a victim of a vehicular murder that tore apart his family.
The horrific accident happened as a drunk driver drove head-on into a pair of police officers. One officer died that night, and another was severely injured. This was the third suspicious accident in some many months involving what could have been a purposeful act. Police have now charged a local man with the crime and mad an arrest.
Police arrested 22-year-old Mohammed Ali from Hayward, California. Ali is charged with the following:
Driving under the influence of alcohol
Driving under the influence of drugs
Causing bodily injury while under the influence
Speeding over 100 mph on a highway”
Ali was traveling at about 120 miles per hour when he crashed into 33-year-old Andrew Camilleri and his partner Jonathan Velasquez. Both men worked for the California Highway Patrol.
The pair were working in the Bay Area looking for drunk drivers. When the officers were hit, they had pulled off of the side of Interstate 880 to watch for drunk drivers. It was about 11:30 at night when a red Cadillac CTS-V hit them head-on.
Camilleri died as a result of his injuries. He left behind his wife Roseanna and their three kids; Elizabeth, Andrew Jr. and Ryder. The Camilleris were high school sweethearts, and Officer Camilleri was highly respected on the job. He was well known for his positive work and desire to help stranded motorists as he was able.
While a great deal of the media coverage of this crash focuses on Officer Camilleri, it seems there was very little information made public about the suspect. Reports are now surfacing about him being combative at the hospital after the crash.
Ali was transported to a local hospital with the two officers he hit. He admitted to being both high and drunk at the time he crashed into the patrol car. The night before the accident, Ali had threatened the life of his wife. He was in the middle of an alcoholic binge when he crashed.
Ali reported that he was arguing with his wife at the time of the accident. He did little to take responsibility for his actions. His blood alcohol level at the time of the crash was well beyond the legal limit. Officials at the hospital reported that he was combative at best as he was treated for his injuries.
In the days and weeks since the crash, the slain officer has been laid to rest. Many within the area pushed to focus the news of the event on the officer that died and not the suspect. His memorial service was well-attended.
One of the mourners included California Governor Jerry Brown. Many members of the local and state police departments attended the services for Officer Camilleri. While CHP bosses spoke about the dangers of driving under the influence, they made to mention of the suspect by name.
Many people paid tribute to the fallen officer at the services. His partner, Officer Velasquez shared “…Andrew, I know you can hear me, it was an honor being your partner, rest in peace brother.”
In the weeks since the crash, very few details have surfaced about the driver. It is not clear whether Ali is an immigrant or not. There has been some speculation that he is an immigrant and others point to the fact that he has ties to the Muslim community. He also has a minor police record with an arrest a few years ago for theft. Those charges were dropped.