SAN JOSE. Elena “Abby” Mondragon will never again open the door to her mother’s house, take part in another Christmas celebration, or hug her sister or other family members.
A 16-year-old girl from Antioch who was fatally shot by Fremont police in a covert operation that went awry more than five years ago will never see her unborn child, her family’s lawyer said Wednesday during a closing argument in court. civil rights trial in connection with the shooting.
Adante Poynter, the family’s lawyer, spoke to a seven-member federal court jury about Mondragon’s suffering the day she was shot and hours before her death, and the losses her family continues to bear.
“She told the surgeons, said in the hospital that it was difficult for her to breathe. She was conscious and conscious,” Pointer said.
“Abby refused to give up her life for more than two, almost three hours,” Pointer said.
Mondragon was one of four people in a stolen BMW driven by 19-year-old Rico Tiger, who was tracked by SWAT officers to the Hayward apartment complex on March 14, 2017.
Fremont Sgt. Jeremy Miskella and Officers Gaylan Chahuati and Joel Hernandez were part of a task force that planned to use undercover police cars to box Tiger, wanted on suspicion of multiple violent armed robberies in the Bay Area, in the parking lot of the complex.
But their plan was delayed by another car pulling into the parking lot before they could pin down Tiger’s BMW.
They tried to block Tiger anyway, and after pointing their rifles at him, Tiger turned the car around and then accelerated towards the officers into the tight space between an unmarked police minivan and other cars parked under an awning. Two officers, Miskella and Hernandez, opened fire on the car.
According to medical reports, Mondragon received multiple injuries, including from bullets and shrapnel, and Tiger, who was not injured, soon crashed the BMW and fled on foot. He was later arrested in San Francisco, according to the Alameda County District Attorney’s report on the shooting. Mondragon was taken to the hospital.
“She did not accept her fate, from the crash site to the hospital, until she was on the operating table. She continued to fight for her life,” Pointer said.
As Pointer spoke, Mondragon’s mother, Michelle Mondragon, began to sob and was embraced by one of her lawyers, Melissa Nold, nearing the end of an emotional case that lasted about five days.
Patrick Moriarty, the officers’ lawyer, stressed to jurors that despite the emotional nature of the case, they should only focus on the evidence when deciding whether the officers used excessive force and were negligent when they killed Mondragon, as her family claimed. .
“RS. Mondragon lost her daughter; she died. She is no longer with us. This will make you sad,” said Moriarty.
“Unfortunately, this sadness, these emotions, this empathy cannot be part of your solution,” he said.
The jurors began deliberating late Wednesday night after hearing closing arguments from lawyers for both sides, though it’s unclear when a verdict will be ready.
He said the evidence did not support the family’s version.
The key point of contention in this case is where Miskella stood when he fired the last two of his five full rounds.
As Tiger was driving towards the officers, Chahuati said he dived into the front seat of the minivan to avoid being hit by a car.
Miskella fired three AR-15 shots into the hood and windshield of the BMW, then ran back and into his secret Honda Pilot, denting it, where he fired two more shots, including the one that likely caused Mondragon’s death. , his lawyers said. .
Miskella testified that he thought he was going to be killed and that Tiger was driving the car right at him.
“Officer Miskella was standing to the side of the car, in cover and out of danger, when he fired at least two shots. At least a car passed him or drove past his position,” Pointer said on Wednesday.
Plaintiffs’ evidence expert, Scott Roeder, previously testified in the case that, based on bullet entry trajectories and the location of spent shell casings, Miskella was behind his pilot and fired the last two shots as the BMW drove by. his.
Fremont police strongly discourage shooting at moving vehicles because it is “rarely effective” and say officers should not shoot unless there is an “imminent threat” to their lives or the lives of others.
Hernandez, who moved closer to the rear passenger side of the minivan, fired twice into the rear of the BMW, stating that he believed the BMW had killed Chahuati and that the vehicle was heading towards Miskella. Roeder said earlier that none of Hernandez’s shots hit any of the car’s occupants.
Alvin Loewy, a traffic re-creation specialist for the defense, countered Roder, stating earlier in the case that, based on the speed of the BMW, Miskella could not have moved fast enough to get to cover and then shoot through the car’s open window.
Both lawyers advised jurors to use “common sense” in assessing the disputed facts in the case.
“We know from hearing evidence at the trial that young Abby, 16-year-old Abby, was shot in the side and that the bullet went from left to right. How does this happen if you are at least at odds with the machine, or a little at odds with it? Pointer said.
“There is not enough time. It simply cannot be as they claim,” Moriarty said in response.
Lawyers say there is no video evidence of the shooting. Pointer likened the various reasons why some officers did not activate or carry body cameras for recording on that tragic day to “my dog ate my homework.”
Moriarty told jurors that focusing on body cameras was “an emotional appeal to upset you.”
“It wasn’t a failed plan,” Moriarty said, referring to Pointer’s description of the police operation. “These were changed circumstances. Changed circumstances are the norm in these operations, these are smooth operations,” he said.
“These are good cops. The kind of officers who put themselves in danger,” said Moriarty.
“The plaintiff was trying to make them look bad,” he said.
Pointer told the jury that good people can make mistakes, but the case is simple.
“Two officers opened fire when they shouldn’t have,” Poynter said.
“Basically, you were told, ‘We did everything right,’” he said of the officers. “There is no criticism of their plan, there is no criticism of their execution. That it’s just something they can wipe their hands on.”
“That the blood they shed, that the blood is on their hands, is not something they can be held responsible for.”