In a legal proceeding that had all the dignity and decorum of happy hour at a lawyer bar, the case against Mongol David Martinez was continued for another 35 days this morning. Martinez will be held without bail in Los Angeles’ notorious Twin Towers Jail. He has been there since October 28.
This was Martinez fourth appearance in court and he was represented by his third lawyer. He was charged October 30 with the murder of Pomona Swat Officer Shaun Diamond with an enhancement for murdering a police officer on duty and another enhancement for being a member of a “criminal street gang.”
He was in court on November 13 at which time his arraignment was postponed because his family had been unable to raise the fee for Pasadena attorney Tom Medrano who was then Martinez’ attorney of record. He pled not guilty on December 3. At that hearing Medrano withdrew from the case and Martinez was briefly represented by public defender Mearl Lottman. Lottman asked for another preliminary hearing citing the “voluminous discovery” in the case. This morning Martinez was represented by a public defender named Brady B. Sullivan. Sullivan asked Judge Renee F. Korn for another preliminary hearing on February 11.
Sullivan told Judge Korn he hadn’t yet seen the “murder book” in the case. The term refers to the official file of the investigation that would include photographs and diagrams of the crime scene; Officer Diamond’s autopsy report; forensic reports that would indicate whether Diamond, Martinez or anyone else on scene fired a weapon; transcriptions of investigators’ notes; and interviews with everyone at the scene. Sullivan said he “was just getting started with the discovery process.”
The circumstances of Diamond’s death are unusual. He was killed in the course of a dynamic entry Swat raid carried out at four in the morning. It was one of seven simultaneous raids and, although it was technically excused as the service of a search warrant, it was unequivocally intended as a form of extrajudicial punishment for Martinez’ membership in a motorcycle club. Although “no knock” entries are illegal in California, the amount of time allowed for home owners to get out of bed can, in fact, be minimal and unreasonable. Martinez’ mother, father, wife, his two children and his mentally challenged sister were all in the home at the time the police threw a flash bang grenade inside.
The official police narrative of the incident is that Martinez hid behind his father and fired a shotgun. Supposedly, the blast simultaneously wounded the senior Martinez and struck Officer Diamond in the back of the head. At the time, Diamond was on the front porch and he was wearing body armor and a helmet. In addition to Martinez’ father, two additional Swat officers were between Martinez and Diamond. A source The Aging Rebel considers to be informed said that immediately after the flash bang grenade exploded an officer standing near Diamond was heard to say “I’m so sorry man.”
Blue On Blue
The case against Martinez may be as open and shut as it has been routinely portrayed to be in the local press. The typical headlines last Fall all read something like “Deranged Mongol Gangster Murders Hero Cop For Serving Warrant.” But if that is the case why haven’t any of Martinez’ three lawyers – so far – yet seen the evidence against him?
Most lawyers in Los Angeles seem to think that it is at least possible that Diamond died as a result of friendly fire. In the last two years police in Colorado, Detroit and New York have died from so-called blue-on-blue shootings. A soundman working for the realty television show Cops was killed by police in Omaha and policemen in San Francisco, Oakland and Virginia were wounded by friendly fire.
It is rare for one Swat officer to kill another but it is not unprecedented and police usually try to cover up such incidents. In 2001, police in Lubbock jailed a man for killing a Swat officer but had to let him go when it was proven he did not fire the fatal shot. A Dallas Swat officer was hit by friendly fire in 2006. And in 2007 a man Rialto, California named Krist Antonio Wiggins was charged with the murder of a Swat Officer named Sergio Carrera Jr. A Rialto Swat Officer at the scene of that killing said Carrera died as a result of friendly fire but later explained that wasn’t what he meant and that he had only chosen his words poorly. Wiggins defenders alleged a police cover up. Wiggins was eventually found guilty of involuntary manslaughter.