David Martinez, a member of the Mongols motorcycle gang, was sentenced to 10 years in prison Tuesday after pleading no contest in November to charges of voluntary manslaughter for killing a Pomona police officer during a 2014 raid.
Martinez has already been tried twice for the killing, and his lawyers were hoping he could be immediately freed, since he has spent more than eight years behind bars. Los Angeles County Deputy Dist. Atty. Jack Garden, meanwhile, pushed for 33 years to life in prison, said Det. Ray Lugo with the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department.
The judge handed down a 10-year term, which means Martinez — who shot SWAT Officer Shaun Diamond with a 24-gauge shotgun, severing his spine and shattering his jaw — could be out of prison as soon as March.
One day after the Oct. 28, 2014, shooting, Diamond was taken off life support and died at Pasadena’s Huntington Hospital.
Following the shooting, Martinez, 44, was tried for first-degree murder and found not guilty, but the jury deadlocked on a count of second-degree murder, and the judge declared a mistrial. In a second trial, jurors found him not guilty of second-degree murder but deadlocked on two lesser charges of voluntary manslaughter and assault with a firearm on a police officer.
Although Martinez pleaded no contest to the lesser charges in November, he maintained that he did not know it was police entering his family home in San Gabriel when he fired his shotgun.
Diamond was among several officers serving a search warrant. After knocking, they used a tool to force open the door. Martinez claimed to have shot the officer believing he was a fellow Mongol breaking in.
A lawyer for Martinez said at his most recent trial that his client had wanted to quit the gang, and therefore feared members of the Mongols had come on the night of the raid. Prosecutors countered that Martinez had kept his tattoos and continued to communicate with the gang.
“Part of his defense was he was afraid for his life — he thought the Mongols were coming — but he gets tons of calls from Mongols,” Det. Lugo told The Times, expressing his dissatisfaction with the length of Martinez’s prison term.
The 10-year sentence means that Martinez could be released in the weeks to come. By March, he will have served 85% of his sentence, the statutory minimum for violent crimes in California.
At Tuesday’s sentencing, Lugo also cast doubt on the impartiality of the forepersons of juries for Martinez’s murder trials. The foreperson on the first jury went with a fellow juror to visit Martinez’s family home and have coffee with his mother “a couple days after the trial,” he said.
The Times reviewed a recorded phone call, made after the conclusion of the first trial, in which the woman can be heard advising Martinez on his legal situation, and the two sign off by saying they love each other.
The foreperson for the second trial’s jury was “planning on writing a script for a movie” about the trial, Lugo added.
The Mongols, a notorious motorcycle gang formed in Montebello in the 1970s, reportedly began with a group of Latino men who had been denied membership in the Hells Angels.
In 2018, a federal jury convicted the group of racketeering. In October 2022, a judge denied a motion for a new trial amid claims that the club’s president had acted as a confidential informant for law enforcement.