Mongols patch holder David Martinez has still not entered a plea in his murder case and is still, technically, without legal representation. Martinez was in court this morning for a plea hearing. Superior Court Judge Renee F. Korn continued the hearing until December 3.
Martinez is accused of murdering Pomona Swat Officer Shaun Diamond at about four in the morning on October 28. Diamond was part of a 14 man Swat team supporting the service of a search warrant. The warrant was part of an ongoing investigation of the Mongols Motorcycle Club by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. Although it was a federal investigation, the Swat team was acting under color of a state warrant. Martinez’ home was one of seven homes raided simultaneously that morning. Police have not announced if they found the gun they were seeking.
Diamond was, reportedly, shot in the back of the head by Martinez and as the case has unfolded it has been difficult to visualize how Martinez managed to do that. Also reportedly, Martinez was standing behind his parents as Swat broke in his front door. The team threw a flash bang grenade inside and two Swat officers entered the residence. Allegedly, Martinez then fired a shotgun. According to official police statements, the discharge wounded Martinez’ father in the arm, missed the Swat officers already in the house and struck Diamond, who was outside the front door in a mob of a dozen militarized police, in the back of his head. Whatever was in the shotgun round, presumably pellets, penetrated Diamond’s military style Kevlar helmet and mortally wounded him. Multiple. independent sources with knowledge of the incident and the investigation have suggested Martinez’ father was injured by shrapnel from the flash bang grenade and not by any shotgun blast.
Waiting For Mister Green
Judge Korn continued this morning’s plea hearing because the attorney currently advising Martinez, a Pasadena lawyer named Tom R. Medrano, has not yet worked out a fee payment agreement with Martinez. Korn told Medrano she would appoint a public defender for Martinez at the December hearing if the two had not worked out the money details by then.
The Mongols Motorcycle Club is probably not in a position to pay for Martinez defense. In previous federal cases against the Mongols and other motorcycle clubs, federal investigators have characterized legal defense funds as “racketeering acts” that prove motorcycle clubs are criminal conspiracies. Preventing motorcycle club members from paying for a competent legal defense is a long standing tactic used by prosecutors to prevent club members from getting a fair trial.
Such unethical tactics are not limited to the Mongols. One reason why influential Hells Angels David Burgess was singled out for prosecution was Burgess’ prosperity and his generosity.
Additionally, the Mongols are currently involved in an expensive federal law suit in a case titled United States versus Mongols Nation Motorcycle Club, LLC. In that case the Department of Justice intends to seize the club’s collective membership marks. The government’s theory is that the club as a whole is a criminal organization; that motorcycle club names, club patches and other symbols intimidate the public at large; and that intimidation is integral to motorcycle clubs’ assumed criminality.
After his arrest, Martinez was held in cruel and illegal conditions that seemed intended to coerce him into confessing to a crime he did not commit. He was kept virtually naked and he was not fed. A source with knowledge of Martinez incarceration said the accused man is now being clothed and fed.
At Martinez’ initial court appearance two weeks ago, Medrano complained that he had not seen any of the evidence against his client. There was no indication at this morning’s hearing that Medrano has seen any of that evidence yet.
Martinez has also been charged with being a member of a criminal street gang and of unspecified “weapons charges.” The “weapons charges” may be intended to provide a way to charge Martinez with murder even if Diamond was shot by another Swat officer. Under California’s Felony Murder Rule, a defendant may be charged with murder if he is engaged in a felonious act while someone dies.
It doesn’t seem likely to happen but it is possible that Martinez could legally be charged with murder if he illegally possessed or discharged a gun during the raid, even though Swat had just broken in his door in the middle of the night and even if in the confusion of the raid another cop shot Diamond.