A former San Diego Police Department sergeant out on bond accused of soliciting sex from a minor failed to show up for his arraignment Monday afternoon and was found dead in his home from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound hours later.
A bench warrant was issued for former SDPD Sgt. Joseph Ruvido, 49, after he failed to appear in court for his 1:30 p.m. arraignment.
More than a dozen officers, including SWAT personnel, armed with rifles, shields and a battery ram were sent to his Carmel Valley home for a welfare check at around 4 p.m. Cameras and other devices were used to try and determine if Ruvido was inside before officers broke down the front door.
SDPD confirmed at 6:40 p.m. that Ruvido was found dead inside his third-floor condo at around 4:25 p.m. His manner of death was not immediately revealed, but officials announced that Police Chief David Nisleit would be holding a news conference at 7:30 p.m.
Nislet said that Ruvido was found dead with an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound, but did not say when he took his own life.
Ruvido was arrested without incident at the condo on July 26 and posted bail the next day. Nisleit said that the department had sent officers, chaplains and other resources to Ruvido's home since he posted bail in an effort to make contact with him but were unsuccessful.
Neighbors told NBC 7 they hadn't seen Ruvido since he was released and that his car hadn't been seen in the complex garage since the following weekend.
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They also said a package left on his doormat had been there since at least August 1.
When asked if Ruvido's apparent manner of death spoke to his guilt or innocence in the solicitation case, Chief Nisleit said the investigation into the allegations against him is still open and that he didn’t want to hurt the integrity of the investigation by answering the question.
Nisleit said no reports of gunfire were made with the department in the last week.
At the time his body was discovered, Ruvido was suspended on unpaid leave and had his police powers revoked, according to Nisleit.
Shortly after police arrived at his home, a neighbor told NBC 7 that the front door of Ruvido's third-floor unit was strung with crime tape and was being guarded by multiple officers.
Ruvido was charged with one felony count of soliciting a minor for sex following his arrest.
SDPD Chief of Police David Nisleit held a news conference following the arrest, and called the situation “very embarrassing” for the department and all of law enforcement.
“Today, I stand here as a very disappointed and embarrassed police chief who has to announce the arrest of one of our own,” said Nisleit. “Police officers should and must be held to a higher standard, both on-duty and off-duty.”
Officers received a tip from Crime Stoppers and the Internet Crimes Against Children task force Wednesday about “individuals soliciting sex with minors.” While investigating the claim, SDPD discovered one of the alleged suspects was Ruvido.
“We had a member of this department do something that is reprehensible,” Nisleit said.
The police chief did not comment on the other reported suspects in this case.
“We wear this badge with a lot of pride,” Nisleit said. “And so, when we have a member go out and tarnish that badge, it hurts us all.”
Officers arrested Ruvido without incident at his Carmel Valley home, SDPD said. The department also served a search warrant at that time.
“Immediately after his arrest, I took steps to remove Sgt. Ruvido’s police powers, and he has been suspended from duty without pay,” said Nisleit.
SDPD's investigation of the case is ongoing.
Ruvido served SDPD for 21 years and was a patrol sergeant for the eastern division before being assigned to the Watch Commander’s Office "a year or so" ago.
According to SDPD’s Facebook page, Ruvido was highlighted in 2016 for his service in the U.S. Navy for eight years. He was deployed in the “first Gulf War (Desert Shield & Desert Storm) with the 1st Marine Division 1st Tank Battalion from 1990-1991,” the post said.
Anyone with information or believes they were a possible victim of Ruvido is asked to call SDPD at (619) 531-2480.
The local crisis hotline can be reached 24 hours a day at (888) 724-7240.