Mongols gang member could be free in weeks after sentencing in killing of Pomona SWAT officer

Plus, questions are being raised about two jurors.

ByRob Hayes and Lisa Bartley KABC logo
Wednesday, January 18, 2023
Mongols gang member sentenced to 10 years in killing of Pomona officer
After more than eight years and two trials, the man who killed a Pomona Police officer during a search warrant execution in San Gabriel was sentenced to 10 years in prison on Tuesday.

POMONA, Calif. (KABC) -- After more than eight years and two trials, the man who killed a Pomona Police officer during a search warrant execution in San Gabriel was sentenced to 10 years in prison on Tuesday.

David Martinez, a member of the Mongols gang, admits to shooting SWAT officer Shaun Diamond in the back of his neck with a 12-gauge shotgun during a police raid on his family's home in October 2014. The bullet severed his spine, but Diamond held on for one more day.

"If anyone could get shot in the face and be okay, it would be him," Diamond's daughter Margo Diamond Nelson told the judge of her initial hope that her father would survive.

After doctors said Diamond's brain was no longer functioning, the family made the decision to take him off life support so his organs could be donated.

"We crowded around him while they unplugged the machines and watched his heartbeat grow fainter and fainter," she recalled at Tuesday's sentencing. "I held his lifeless hand; he was so strong it took him a long time to die."

Margo Diamond Nelson said sitting through Martinez's two trials was "an act of real-world love for someone who is no longer here," adding that she never thought jurors could find him not guilty of murdering her father.

"I don't wish David any harm, but I do hope that he is haunted by what he did," she said through tears. "I don't need to forgive David and I never will. He will always be the person who murdered my father. That will never change.''

Martinez testified in his own defense at both trials and claimed that the SWAT officers did not appropriately identify themselves, leading him to believe that fellow Mongols were breaking into his house and that the lives of his family were in jeopardy.

That argument made sense to the juries in two trials. Martinez was found not guilty of first-degree murder in his first trial. When he was later tried for second degree murder, jurors again found him not guilty.

"He was acting in self-defense, he was acting to defend his family," said Martinez's defense attorney Brady Sullivan. "And there was overwhelming evidence to support that, which is why both juries acquitted him."

When prosecutors announced last fall that they would try him a third time for voluntary manslaughter, Martinez pleaded no contest to avoid a third trial. As part of the plea, Martinez admitted he shot and killed Diamond, but denied knowing he was a police officer.

"My actions weren't out of malice," said Martinez in court just before his sentencing Tuesday. "My actions were not because I wanted to shoot a police officer. My actions were because I thought there was a threat to my family and that's the truth and that's always been the truth."

Los Angeles County Deputy District Attorney Jack Garden urged the judge to sentence Martinez to the maximum possible term of 33 years to life in prison.

"The defendant armed himself with a shotgun loaded with slug rounds, the most dangerous, damaging type of round - while high on meth - with no care or regard to who was on that porch," Garden said.

Judge Charlaine Olmedo told the courtroom that Diamond's death "left a gaping hole in his community, his department, his family," but said that she had to impose a mid-term sentence of 10 years. She urged Martinez to not to betray the love and support of his family.

"As for Officer Diamond's family and friends - they will have to learn to live with grief," Olmedo said. "And for the rest of your life, know that you are responsible for that."

"It's shameful," said Los Angeles County Sheriff's Homicide Detective Ray Lugo of Martinez's sentence. "I don't believe it's enough time."

Detective Lugo took this case personally and spoke out at Tuesday's sentencing, raising questions about the jury forepersons in both trials.

"When we have jurors who have ulterior motives or lonely women who fall in love with the defendant, we don't have much of a chance," Lugo told Eyewitness News.

Lugo is referring to Janine Eiley, the foreperson of Martinez's first trial. She's developed a relationship with the admitted killer and attended almost every day of his second trial. Eiley, who is a nurse, spoke briefly with Eyewitness News after the sentencing.

"I love David and his family as friends, that's it," Eiley said.

But Eyewitness News obtained phone calls between Martinez and Eiley from inside Men's Central Jail, where the two can be heard expressing their love for each other.

"I love you, Janine. Thank you," Martinez says.

"You're welcome," Eiley responds.

"Thank you," says Martinez. "You're making me blush right now."

"We have a bond and a relationship that you and me will always have," Martinez can also be heard telling Eiley.

"I know, I know," she responds. "I'll wait a couple of centuries for you... you think I'm kidding but I'm not."

In other recorded calls, Eiley urges Martinez to "give praise and love to God" and to treat the mother of his two children "like a (expletive) queen."

"I love you dearly, no matter what, no matter who, no matter anything and I'm here," says Eiley. "Like I said, even if I never see you again for 10 to 15 to 20 years."

Meantime, the foreperson of Martinez's second trial, Melissa Armstrong, told Eyewitness News that she is currently writing a screenplay about jury service and plans to write a screenplay about the Martinez case in the future.

"I will profit off it eventually," Armstrong said in late November, adding that she disclosed she was a screenwriter during jury selection.

Both Armstrong and Eiley support Martinez and voted against convictions at his two trials. In a November recorded phone call with Martinez, Eiley talks about Armstrong's plan for a screenplay and suggests he cooperate because "things will get done without or without your input."

"Your own hardships, your own suffering, being an innocent person," Eiley told Martinez. "Let me just tell you that in the future, there are so many possibilities ... for you to maybe not even have to work three jobs."

Even though Martinez received a 10-year prison sentence, he will soon be out on the streets. The sentence includes the more than eight years he's been held in custody during the trials and California law requires just 85% of the sentence to be served.

"We're very, very disappointed," Lugo said. "He's going to be out in the next month or so, possibly even six weeks."

Whenever Martinez is released, he'll have the support of his family, including the mother of his two children, all of whom attended the two trials. He'll also have the support of Eiley.

In other recorded jailhouse phone calls, Eiley tells Martinez she's looking forward to giving him a hug and seems to acknowledge she knows the phone calls are being recorded.

"Like you said, I can't say too much on here," Eiley said to Martinez. "Believe me when I tell you and once you get out, I'll tell you."

"You and I being in each other's life is not by chance -- it was ordained," Eiley says. "God made me stay there and he made you choose me and he made me the foreperson."

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