California Sheriff’s Deputy Charged With Placing Loaded Weapon Into Child’s Backpack

A Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputy accused of placing his loaded duty weapon in a child’s backpack appeared in Orange County Superior Court on Thursday.

Manuel Murillo, 37, pleaded not guilty to misdemeanor charges of child endangerment, second-degree criminal storage of a firearm and third-degree criminal storage of a firearm, court records show.

Prosecutors allege that Murillo, while off-duty on April 11, placed his loaded firearm into an 8-year-old’s relatives backpack before dropping the child off with a caretaker.

The caretaker was “made aware” of the firearm about 25 minutes after Murillo dropped the child off and contacted the Fullerton Police Department, according to an Orange County District Attorney’s Office statement.

It wasn’t clear if Murillo intentionally placed the firearm in the backpack, or if the gun ended up there by accident. His attorney could not immediately be reached for comment.

Murillo was relieved of duty on April 12, pending the outcome of the criminal investigation, Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department Spokeswoman Nicole Nishida said. He has been with the department for 12 years.

If convicted, Murillo faces up to a year in county jail.