A prosecutor told jurors there is overwhelming evidence against a man charged with murdering a Pomona SWAT officer helping to serve a search warrant in San Gabriel, while the man’s attorney urged the panel to acquit his client in what he said was a case of self-defense.
The six-man, six-woman jury was handed the case against David Martinez after about six weeks of testimony, including the 41-year-old defendant’s account that he fired a “warning shot” from his shotgun because he feared members of a motorcycle club to which he belonged were trying to break into the home he shared with his parents, common-law wife, two young children and his adult sister, who has Down syndrome, during the early morning hours of Oct. 28, 2014.
Martinez, who worked as a termite inspector, is charged with murder and assault with a firearm on a police officer in connection with the killing of Officer Shaun Diamond, who had 16 years of law enforcement experience with the Los Angeles, Montebello and Pomona police departments and died the next day.
The murder charge includes the special circumstance allegation of murder of a police officer in the performance of his duties, along with gang and gun allegations. He could face life in prison without the possibility of parole if convicted as charged.
“The defendant shot Officer Diamond while Officer Diamond’s back was to the defendant, while Officer Diamond’s gun was in its holster, while Officer Diamond was walking away from the defendant. And they’re going to call that self-defense. Officer Diamond posed no threat to the defendant, zero threat,” Deputy District Attorney Jack Garden told jurors during his closing argument.
“This is not a case of self-defense,” Garden said.
The prosecutor repeatedly called Martinez a “Mongol” — referring to the motorcycle club to which he belongs, “a murderer” and “a manipulator,” saying that Diamond and his fellow SWAT officers “couldn’t plan for the defendant shooting Officer Diamond in the back of the neck” as the 6’2” officer walked away from the home’s front door.
Diamond and his fellow officers were wearing green uniforms with large yellow letters indicating they were police, and both of Martinez’s parents heard the announcements that police were outside to serve a search warrant, Garden said, disputing the defendant’s contention that he thought members of the Mongols were trying to break into the family’s home and that he saw only a shadow.
“… He doesn’t see him? Are we going to give the defendant a pass? Is this his free murder?” Garden said.
Police “showed a tremendous amount of restraint” by not firing at Martinez, whose own father had also been struck by the gunfire, the deputy district attorney said.
The prosecutor questioned whether Martinez feared his fellow Mongols, noting that members of the same group that Martinez believed was coming to harm his family have subsequently put money into his jailhouse account.
Martinez’s attorney, Brady Sullivan, countered that the prosecution can’t accept that “tactical mistakes” were made by police and that Martinez acted reasonably in self-defense by firing once before quickly surrendering to police outside the home. He noted that his client apologized when officers entered the home and said that he didn’t realize that it was police officers who had been outside.
“Most defendants don’t testify … He wanted to take the stand. He wanted to tell the truth,” Sullivan said. “He took responsibility for his actions. His parents disagree with me. They’re convinced the police officers shot their own.”
The defense lawyer urged jurors to acquit his client of first-degree murder, second-degree murder and manslaughter, along with the assault charge, calling it a “lawful self-defense and defense of his father and mother.”
“If you find Mr. Martinez acted in reasonable self-defense, he’s not guilty of the crimes in this case,” Sullivan told jurors.
Martinez’s attorney said he believes the evidence presented by the prosecution against his client was “so weak that they have not even come close to proving their case beyond a reasonable doubt.”
Testifying in his own defense, David Martinez told jurors that he reached for a shotgun by his bed because he heard loud banging sounds and thought someone was trying to break into the house and that he fired after seeing what he perceived to be the barrel of a gun pointed toward his father.
“I never heard anybody identify themselves as police,” Martinez testified on June 5.
He told jurors that he was startled to hear screaming after firing the gunshot, turned around, dropped the shotgun, laid down and said he was sorry.
“I kept saying I was sorry. I didn’t know it was the police,” Martinez said. “I thought it was the Mongols.”
“I would never fire at police or law enforcement ever. I have family that’s (in) law enforcement,” the defendant said.
Under cross-examination by Deputy District Attorney Michael Blake, the defendant said, “I took aim and I pulled the trigger.”
“You shot to kill that day?” the prosecutor asked.
“I shot to protect my family,” Martinez responded.
“You shot to kill the target that day?” the prosecutor said.
“There was no target, sir,” the defendant said, maintaining that he was trying to defend his family when he fired the shot, and never saw any police officers until they were coming into the house after the shot was fired.
Martinez said he had pondered dropping out of the Mongols after having a change of heart about his involvement in the motorcycle club, but had heard stories about other members who tried to quit and was concerned for the safety of himself and his family.
>> Want to read more stories like this? Get our Free Daily Newsletters Here!Follow us: