From: San Jose Mercury News
By Malaika Fraley and Chris De Benedetti 7/24/15
HAYWARD — Fifty uniformed Hayward police officers stood stone-faced on one side, and the suspect’s family cried silently on the other as a dazed-looking 21-year-old Oakland man was arraigned Friday on capital murder charges in the killing of Sgt. Scott Lunger.
“We are devastated for the officer that passed away, I’m devastated for my son, but I believe in God, and I believe that while the investigation goes on, my son will be cleared,” Mark Anthony Estrada’s mother, Raquel Estrada, told a swarm of reporters outside Judge Scott Patton’s courtroom. “I don’t think he’s guilty.”
While police have been unable to determine why the 48-year-old father of two was shot, they’ve produced enough evidence to prompt the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office on Friday to file special circumstances murder charges against Estrada that make him eligible for the death penalty or life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O’Malley said in a statement before the hearing that she is committed to doing everything within her power to ensure “justice will be served.”
Lunger, a 15-veteran of the Hayward force, was fatally shot in the head about 3:15 a.m. Wednesday after pulling over a driver for swerving through a residential neighborhood. A backup officer returned fire, hitting Estrada in his left side without ever seeing his face.
That officer’s harrowing account of Lunger’s killing was retold by his attorney, Michael Rains, who declined to name the 7-year Hayward veteran because, Rains said, investigators are looking into whether the defendant has gang ties that would put the officer’s life in danger.
“Scott (Lunger) was very much a mentor to him,” Rains said. “It’s a tough memory to see someone you are so close to … in that precarious situation.”
The officer was just pulling up to Myrtle and Lion streets when he saw Lunger slowly make his way to a white Chevy Silverado truck registered to Estrada.
The officer heard Lunger say over the police radio that the truck didn’t pull over right away, but Lunger hadn’t seemed concerned, Rains said.
Lunger cautiously approached the driver’s side door. He was about 10 feet away with his flashlight illuminating the driver’s window in the early morning darkness, his gun holstered, when he reacted to something “disturbing,” the officer told his attorney.
“He heard the sergeant say something that equated to ‘Oh, (expletive),” Rains said. “Almost instantaneously, he heard what he thought was a gunshot and saw the sergeant just crumple to the ground.
The officer began to fire at the truck in self-defense, Rains said, but couldn’t see who was inside.
Within a span of 30 seconds, Lunger was shot and the officer returned fire, emptying his clip with about 13 shots, then tending to his fallen partner as the suspect fled.
Rains said it was a very traumatic event for his client, who felt close to Lunger. Lunger was his field training officer, and he worked under him both on the SWAT and overnight patrol teams. He is on paid leave and receiving counseling.
About 20 minutes after Lunger was pronounced dead at Eden Medical Center, police located the Silverado. It had been abandoned at 98th and Edes avenues, not far from the Estrada family’s East Oakland home. Detectives found a bullet hole and blood on the driver’s seat and two expended 9 mm casings on the floorboard, according to a probable cause declaration. More bullet holes on the driver’s side were consistent with bullets fired by Lunger’s backup officer.
At a hospital, Estrada admitted he was shot in the driver’s seat of his vehicle near A Street in Hayward but would not answer when asked who had shot him, police said.
A 9 mm handgun, unused rounds and an associated gun magazine were found at the crime scene. More 9 mm ammunition and casings were found at Estrada’s house, police said. They also collected undisclosed evidence that Estrada is affiliated with a gang.
His attorney, Richard Pointer, said that Estrada has no criminal record and no gang connections. He is asking the public to reserve judgment against the high school graduate and roofer, whom his mother described as a “good boy” with a “good heart,” as the investigation continues to unfold.
He is being held without bail and returns to court Aug. 25. Lunger’s funeral is scheduled for 10 a.m. Thursday at Oracle Arena in Oakland.