On today’s podcast we present Parts Four and Five of Mongol, our exclusive new Crime Story series written and read by Molly Miller that tells the story of the tragic killing of a police officer and the complex search for truth and justice in the aftermath of his death. You can find all of the previously published parts of the series here.
At David Martinez’s arraignment, he peered through the shining bars of the defendant holding dock and squinted at the occupants of the fluorescent-lit courtroom. Below the judge’s bench, bun-headed clerks typed furiously on their computers and in the gallery attorneys communed with anxious family members who wiped tears away with their shirtsleeves. The air buzzed with the hushed tones of dozens of different conversations each regarding a different case. But of all those cases, few if any bore the weight of the circumstances now looming over David. When it came time for Martinez to address the court, he stood before the judge in his jail-issued orange scrubs. The judge read the official charges brought against him: capital murder with the special circumstance of murder of a police offier engaged in his duties.
If convicted David Martinez could face the death penalty.
After his arraignment, the court referred Martinez to the public defender’s office which appointed Brady Sullivan as his counsel. Tall and thin, with steely grey hair, Sullivan was a passionate, senior trial attorney with a reputation for winning difficult cases. But he was also looking forward to retirement. Martinez would be his last big case, the culmination of his years as defense counsel.
Although Sullivan had legal clout, he wasn’t one for excessive showmanship. He wore classic suits, well fitted and meticulously pressed. His legal binders were plain but fastidiously organized and when it came to the media he eschewed the spotlight preferring to focus on his cases. In contrast, the Deputy DA ultimately assigned to the case was the attorney equivalent of a high school starting quarterback. Jack Garden was a robust man and a confident prosecutor. He greeted members of the press by name and was followed by a swarm of clerks who carried his files.
While Sullivan began assembling his case, Martinez communicated with his parents, Arturo and Guadelupe. The couple was adamant: David didn’t shoot Shaun Diamond. They believed Arutro had been shot by an officer and that David wasn’t even in the living room when it happened. Guadelupe told her son she was certain Shaun Diamond was killed by friendly fire, maybe an over-eager SWAT officer standing behind him. The coroner’s report showed that Diamond was shot in the back of the neck. How could David shoot a man in the back when he was standing in front of him?
Although the police told David that he shot officer Diamond, David was starting to have his doubts. It seemed possible that his parents were right. Maybe the shot he fired didn’t hit anyone. Maybe he wasn’t responsible for a man’s death at all.
As the details of the horrific incident swarmed in David’s mind he faced another nightmare in his living situation. Martinez had been assigned to a block that housed several other members of the Mongols. In order to prevent gang wars, the inmates were sometimes placed with members of their own gang. Usually this wasn’t a problem, but it was for Martinez, who claimed he was no longer associated with the Mongols. Now the members in his bloc were restless, concerned that he was going to rat out “mother” – the name for the Montebello chapter of the club that included the Mongols’ president, secretary, treasurer and the sergeant at arms. Martinez didn’t have much intel on the organization but the Mongols in his cell block suspected Martinez knew names and that was enough. They threatened to stab David should he open his mouth.
When Sandra came to visit Martinez in jail, he put on a brave face, assuring her that Sullivan was going to get him out. The act did little to ease Sandra’s mind. She informed him that his father was doing well after having surgery to repair the bullet wound on his arm. But their children were gone, taken by The Department of Family and Children’s Services. She didn’t know when she would get to hold Alyssa or David Jr. again.
While the Martinez family unraveled in the wake of the incident, the city of Pomona cried out for its fallen son. Businesses in downtown Pomona closed shop to pay respect to Shaun Diamond and blue ribbons were tied to every tree and lamppost in his honor. A mile-long police motorcade drove through Pomona, watched by the citizens of the town who held signs showing their support for the Diamond family.
Over six thousand police officers, government officials and members of the public attended Shaun Diamond’s funeral which was held at an arena in Ontario. The path to the location was marked by flags at half mast, barely fluttering in the lukewarm autumn air. Inside, the blare of a bagpipe announced the arrival of Diamond’s casket, carried by officers in uniform. Each of their dress blues nicely ironed, all of their tie pins immaculately shined. Governor Jerry Brown and Attorney General Kamala Harris sat near the family at the front of the expansive crowd offering their profound condolences and gratitude for Diamond’s service. Detective Lugo attended the proceedings, paying his respects to the fallen officer. When he spoke with members of the Pomona Police Department, love and support radiated from their ranks, but underneath a righteous anger brewed: outrage aimed at the man who killed Shaun Diamond.
As funeral proceedings carried on in Ontario, Sullivan was hard at work on David’s case, sorting through discovery sent from the DA’s office. Their evidence contained several details that fundamentally shaped his understanding of the case. First, all SWAT members serving the search warrant the evening of the incident were carrying rifles loaded with beanbag shot. Beanbag shot is considered “less lethal ammunition” — it’s meant to incapacitate the target. Beanbag shot would not cleanly go through Shaun Diamond’s neck. That kind of brutal damage was consistent with a shotgun slug.
Second, police found a shotgun slug casing inside the Martinez living room, meaning that the shot that killed Shaun Diamond was fired from inside the house.
It was clear to Sullivan that only one person shot a gun that night: his client, David Martinez.