A man who killed a Pomona police SWAT officer who was helping to serve a search warrant at a San Gabriel house where the defendant and his family lived more than eight years ago pleaded no contest Wednesday to voluntary manslaughter.
David Martinez, 44, was previously acquitted in two separate trials of first-degree murder and second-degree murder stemming from the October 2014 death of Officer Shaun Diamond. Jurors in the most recent trial earlier this year deadlocked on two other charges — the lesser count of voluntary manslaughter and assault with a firearm on a police officer.
In a downtown Los Angeles courtroom Wednesday, Martinez pleaded no contest to both of those counts and admitted gun allegations.
He is scheduled to be sentenced Jan. 17.
Martinez — who waived his right to a third trial — made an open plea to the court, with no stipulation announced in open court on the sentence he will be ordered to serve.
Defense attorney Brady Sullivan said outside court that he plans to push for a 10-year sentence — the bulk of which Martinez has already served in custody.
“I’m hoping that’s what the judge is going to sentence him to,” Sullivan said. “We don’t know exactly how much he’s going to get.”
Deputy District Attorney Jack Garden told City News Service outside court that his office will object to the defense’s request for a 10-year sentence and will “be asking for a higher sentence.”
Pomona police Capt. Ryan Rodriguez said, “It was gratifying to hear the defendant admit and take responsibility for the atrocious acts that he did towards our friend.”
He said Diamond’s colleagues on the Pomona police force intend to “carry on Shaun’s honor and good name and never to let his story die.”
Diamond — who was 45 years old and a 16-year law enforcement veteran who also worked for the Los Angeles and Montebello police departments — was placed on life support and died a day after the bullet severed his spine and shattered his lower jaw.
Martinez has remained jailed since he surrendered to police shortly after the shooting, telling officers, “I’m sorry. I didn’t know you were the police. I thought you were the Mongols.”
Martinez testified in his own defense during both of his trials, saying during his first trial that he fired a “warning shot” from his shotgun because he feared members of the Mongols motorcycle club — an organization to which he belonged — were trying to break into the home he shared with his parents, his girlfriend, their two young children and his adult sister.
The defendant told jurors he was startled to hear screaming after firing the shot, 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 testified in 2019. “I thought it was the Mongols. I would never fire at police or law enforcement ever. I have family that’s (in) law enforcement.”
He maintained during his first trial that he “shot to protect my family” and that there was “no target.”
Police went to the house early that morning to serve a search warrant as part of an ongoing investigation by a task force into the Mongols, Deputy District Attorney Hilary Williams told jurors during the retrial.
Diamond had turned his back to walk off the steps with a heavy piece of equipment that had been used to open the screen door and was shot by Martinez in the back of the neck with a 12-gauge shotgun, the prosecutor told jurors during the trial. None of the other officers present returned fire, the prosecutor said.
“You don’t get to just shoot somebody on your doorstep,” Williams told jurors, arguing that there was no way the shooting occurred in self-defense as Martinez and his attorney contend.
The deputy district attorney told the panel that it was “irrational on every level” to shoot a law enforcement officer in front of some of the defendant’s own family members, but said the defendant was “high on methamphetamine” at the time of the shooting.
Martinez’s attorney called what happened a “tragic accident” and said Martinez was lawfully defending his family after seeing the barrel of a gun.
“And it was reasonable. … The law says it’s reasonable to defend your family, your home and yourself,” Sullivan told the panel.
Martinez’s lawyer said it was not reasonable to believe Martinez would deliberately fire a shot at police and put his entire family at risk inside the home.
“He didn’t know it’s the police. He thinks it’s an intruder,” Sullivan said.
The defense attorney called the SWAT team’s operation that day “completely unnecessary” and contended that the officers’ warnings that they were there to serve a search warrant were drowned out by noise being made by the SWAT team as they tried to get into the house and a locked gate. The prosecutor countered that the warnings were given before and during the efforts to breach the home and gate.