LOS ANGELES (CNS) - A prosecutor told jurors today that a man fatally shot a Pomona SWAT officer who was helping to serve a search warrant at the San Gabriel home where the defendant and his family lived, while a defense attorney countered that what happened was a tragic accident stemming from his client's belief that he needed to defend his family from an unknown intruder.
David Martinez, now 44, is charged with second-degree murder and assault with a firearm on a police officer in connection with the Oct. 28, 2014, shooting of Officer Shaun Diamond, 45, who was placed on life support and died a day after the bullet severed his spine and shattered his lower jaw.
Jurors in Martinez's first trial acquitted him of first-degree murder in June 2019 after nearly five days of deliberations, but deadlocked on the lesser charge of second-degree murder involving the death of the 16-year law enforcement veteran who had also worked for the Los Angeles and Montebello police departments. The first jury did not vote on the assault charge.
In her opening statement, Deputy District Attorney Hilary Williams told the downtown Los Angeles jury in Martinez's retrial that officers had gone to the home early that morning to serve a search warrant in connection with an ongoing investigation by a task force into the Mongols motorcycle club, saying that the defendant was a ``full-fledged member.''
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 said.
The deputy district attorney said Martinez was lying when he told police after the shooting, ``I'm sorry. I didn't know you were the police. I thought you were the Mongols.''
Officers had yelled out ``police'' and ``search warrant'' before the shooting, in which Martinez's father was also shot in the arm, Williams said.
``Not a single one of those officers fired back,'' Williams said, noting that Martinez's parents contended that the officer was killed by ``friendly fire.''
Jurors will be asked to ``hold the defendant responsible for his actions,'' the prosecutor said.
Defense attorney Brady Sullivan told jurors that they would hear from his client, who he contends ``mistakenly'' shot the officer.
``... What happened on October 28, 2014, was a tragic accident,'' Martinez's lawyer said. ``It was a tragic accident because David Martinez was trying to defend his family.''
The defense attorney said the evidence will show that the crucial events all happened within a few seconds amid noise, chaos and confusion during which Martinez did not hear the announcement of ``police'' by multiple officers yelling over each other and saw the barrel of a rifle being pointed at his father at the front door of the family's home.
``... He didn't know it was the police,'' Sullivan said, telling jurors that his client ``wanted to be done with the Mongols'' but told his girlfriend that he was afraid of leaving the motorcycle club.
Sullivan contended that his client should be acquitted of murder.
During his first trial, Martinez testified that he fired a ``warning shot'' from his shotgun because he feared members of the Mongols 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 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 testified. ``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.''