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Danville ex-cop trial: jury hears opening arguments

CONTRA COSTA COUNTY, CA – Both parties presented their opening arguments Monday in Contra Costa County Superior Court in Martinez in the manslaughter case of Danville Constable Andrew Hall, who shot Laudemer Arboleda nine times as he tried to get away from the police on November 3. 2018.

Arboleda, 33, drove police through Danville after police repeatedly tried to stop him after a resident complained about a suspicious person knocking on doors.

The incident ended at the intersection of Diablo Road and Front Street, with two police units behind Arboleda’s gray Honda Civic and two in front, including Hall’s.

Arboleda was trying to squeeze between two police cars, when Hall opened fire from the front passenger side of Arboleda’s car, hitting the Newark man nine times. He died at the scene.

Hall pleaded not guilty to intentional homicide and assault with a firearm.

Showing dash camera video of the incident, Senior Assistant District Attorney Coleen Gleason counted 10 shots fired into Arboleda’s car. “He definitely fired ten shots in the slow moving vehicle of a mentally ill person,” Gleason told the jury.

The prosecution has repeatedly pointed out that the only law Arboleda apparently broke that day was not to stop, and the chase was about to be overturned when Hall pulled over, got out of his way. vehicle and opened fire.

Gleason also said Hall violated Contra Costa sheriff’s office procedure (Danville’s contracts with the county for police services) by not obtaining permission from a supervisor before blocking a fleeing car. She said Hall also endangered the life of another officer, whose car was on the other side of Arboleda, and that the sheriff’s department trains officers to shoot a driver only as a last resort. , “because you lose control of the vehicle”. Gleason said, noting that after the shooting, Arbodela’s car continued to cross Diablo Road, colliding with another vehicle.

Gleason admitted that there are times when the police are forced to make life and death decisions. “It wasn’t one of those times,” Gleason said. “The evidence is clear and the case is straightforward. You will find (Hall’s) response to be excessive.”

Defense lawyer Nicole Pifari said Hall had no choice and has been living a nightmare. She used frame-by-frame video to demonstrate her claim that Arboleda’s right front tire was pointing towards Hall before the shooting began. “He has an option that could save him,” Pifari said.

She said Hall had rushed to the passenger side of his police car because he thought he could take cover on that side of the car. It was Arboleda who changed the scenario by suddenly trying to drive between police vehicles and pointing his car at Hall. She said the shooting did what it was meant to do – it changed the trajectory of Arboleda’s car and kept Hall from being hit.

Pifari said it was just a matter of seconds, not whether Arboleda suffered from mental illness, was unarmed or had committed any crime other than not stopping.

“The facts and the science will show you that it was self defense,” Pifari said.

Assistant District Attorney Chris Walpole called his first witness, retired Danville Police Sgt. Chris Martin, who was the supervisor on duty when Hall shot Arboleda. He arrived at the scene just seconds after Hall and was in the vehicle on the other side of Arboleda’s car.

Walpole spent most of his time at the helm teaching him about the events leading up to the shooting. Martin was still on the stand when the tribunal was removed from office and will continue testifying at 10:30 a.m. Tuesday when the tribunal reconvenes.

Hall was involved in another shooting in March 2021, when he shot and killed Tyrell Wilson, 32, near the Sycamore Valley Road overpass on Interstate 680. Police said Wilson was approaching Hall with a knife. Judge Terri Mockler ruled last month that the incident could not be used against Hall during the trial. Authorities are still investigating the second shooting and no charges have been filed.

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Mildred Lasky

The author Mildred Lasky