Family Faces Theft and Assault Charges After Repo Man Attempts to Take Their Vehicle

Share:
Image from a video surveillance taken by the repossession agent
Image from a video surveillance taken by the repossession agent

On May 11, 2013, a repo man banged on the West Sacramento door of Guillermo and Sandra Bonilla, shared with his brother Juan Bonilla. What started out as a simple attempt at repossession started a several hour struggle, where the family was ultimately able to get their vehicle back and clear up the matter, but six months later they were arrested and charged with numerous crimes including second degree robbery, grand theft, and battery.

What transpired depends on who tells the story. A video was shot from the tow truck and narrated by the repo man, however the family tells a very different story. The attorney representing the family, Tony Palik, maintains that the tow truck driver unnecessarily escalated the incident and initiated the physical confrontation with his clients.

The repossession agent responded to a request by Travis Credit Union to repossess a black 2008 Land Rover. The video shows that the agent “secured the 2008 Land Rover with his tow truck (Hydraulic Lift, Dollies and Tie-Down Straps), taking physical possession of the 2008 Land Rover.” He then knocked at the door, as he explained, hoping to gain the cooperation of the owners to tie down the steering wheel and, according to the police report, “to allow them to remove personal items from the interior of the vehicle prior to him leaving the location with the vehicle.”

He was met at the door by Sandra Bonilla and Guillermo Bonilla, along with his brother Juan Bonilla. According to the police report, the agent “attempts to stop Guillermo from removing the straps and as a result Juan Carlos exits the Land Rover, approaches (the agent) from the rear and places (the agent) in a choke hold to pull (the agent) away.”

Juan Bonilla then allegedly stood between the agent and the vehicle to prevent him from interfering with his bother while he untied the straps securing the vehicle.

Detective Kenneth Fellows wrote, “Sandra emerges from the residence and drives the Land Rover off the hydraulic boom then maneuvers the Land Rover in the driveway, driving over the dollies placed under the front wheels of the Land Rover before finally fleeing the area in the Land Rover.”

The dollies, valued at over $1000 each, were missing but ultimately returned.

The Bonillas met with the Vanguard a few months ago and told a very different story. They said, at 9 am, the repo man banged at the door. They were not aware of who it was, and their home had been broken into two months before and they thought it was the same person.

They never suspected it was a repo man, as they thought their payments were up to date. They showed the Vanguard documentation that on May 1, 2013, they had received a statement stating no late payments were due.

Ms. Bonilla had returned from Honduras in April after a one-month stay. All three were legal residents of the US, and they provided the Vanguard with their passports and other paperwork. Guillermo Bonilla has been a resident for 18 years and owns a West Sacramento business.

Ms. Bonilla said she usually pays the bills, so Guillermo forgot to pay on her car. She contacted Travis Credit Union around April 11, 2013. She had them process one payment at that time and arranged for the next payment to be processed on April 28, 2013.

However, unbeknownst to them, the second payment never went through because their account was frozen by Chase due to some issues with Guillermo’s trucking business.

When the man told them he is repossessing the car, he was holding some papers, but refused to show them. They asked for proof that he wasn’t mistaken about the car, as it still had the dealer plates, even though it was a year old.

The repo man told the police that the dealer plates and covered VIN number were efforts to conceal the vehicle, however, Ms. Bonilla said that the DMV had simply lost the plates.

The tow truck had nothing identifying a company and when they asked for his ID, he refused again.

Ms. Bonilla told the Vanguard that, during the two-hour incident, they called the police four times.

Guillermo Bonilla attempted to remove the partially attached straps, when the agent reached around his face and grabbed his mouth with both hands, causing him to bleed. It was at this point that Juan Bonilla pulled the agent off his brother.

Ms. Bonilla, at this point, attempted to drive the car away, but the agent lifted the hydraulic fork as she was driving, scaring her more. She had to back up to maneuver around the tow truck and the repo man kept lifting the hydraulic fork to stop her.

She told the Vanguard that the repo man followed her off the property and chased her as she sped around West Sacramento for 30 minutes. In one hand she was talking to the bank, in the other she was talking to the police dispatcher. She pleaded with them to let her talk to a commander or someone in charge, but was told, “No one is here.” Eventually she was told that all the police were at her house.

The Bonillas cleared up the issue with the bank and finally received the release letter. They thought the issue was resolved at this point and they remained in possession of the vehicle.

However, on June 7, 2013, Detective Fellows returned to their residence, and pounded on the door. He accused her of stealing the repo man’s dollies, to which she replied by questioning why she would want them. She told him she had a lawyer and he should talk to him. The sergeant was angry and left.

Detective Fellows returned to her home later in the week. Detective Fellows pounded on her door, telling her he needed her side of the story. She called her lawyer who advised her to have him call him.

Five months later, in December, 2013, a SWAT broke down their door. She said that she would not open it without seeing a warrant and that they never provided one. She told the Vanguard that they broke down the bedroom door to get to Juan, for whom they did not have a warrant. They threatened to have CPS take her son.

This case is scheduled to go to trial this week. It was delayed until Thursday.

—David M. Greenwald reporting

Share:

About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

Related posts

16 thoughts on “Family Faces Theft and Assault Charges After Repo Man Attempts to Take Their Vehicle”

  1. Frankly

    The Bonilla’s made up a nice, but unbelievable, story for their thuggish, lawless and reckless behavior.

    This might be a teaching moment for some.   What would you have done in the same circumstances?

    1. David Greenwald Post author

      I have a different view. I watched the video.

      Here’s my view:

      1. The repo man came into this incident intent on taking possession of the vehicle. They told him they had paid their vehicle, it was 9 am, it could have been resolved one way or another at that point with a phone call. He said he didn’t care. He wanted to take possession of the vehicle so he could get his money. While he was certainly entitled to do that, he escalated the situation. He was also non-cooperative in terms showing the order or identifying himself.
      2. The family claims he actually made the first aggressive moove. It’s inconclusive on the video whether he makes physical contact with Guillermo, but he acknowledged he tried to stick his hand in to prevent him from slipping off the connector to the tire. Did he make physical contact with the Guillermo, I can’t tell. But the brother simply pulled him back for a brief second, that was the “battery” charge.
      3. The repo guy had a lot of options at this point – he could have come back later (as he actually told the officer in the report he was planning to do after the incident), he could have stayed there until the police arrived, he could have waited for the bank to clarify the situation, but he wanted to get paid and instead he escalated the confrontation.

      In retrospect the family should have let him take the vehicle and sort it out with the bank. My objection is the overly-criminal nature of this prosecution. Most of the charges are trumped up and there is the matter of illegal SWAT raid on their home and the overreaction by WSPD

        1. Davis Progressive

          the problem is that both sides could have handled this better, and yet one side is being criminally prosecuted and you’re only concerned with the teaching moment for the family, not repo man.

        2. Frankly

          First, I am biased about the black 2008 Land Rover.  Sorry, but anyone owning an expensive luxury car should be more responsible about paying their payments and also more responsible dealing with a repo situation.  My car payment is taken out of my checking account automatically every month.  That is common.  I think the “forgot because I was out of the country and the bank lost the payment” excuse is crap.

          Second, the repo man has a very difficult and dangerous job.  Show some respect for that difficult job instead of behaving like a thug.  If there is an error, it is not the repo man’s fault.  It is the bank’s fault.

        3. Davis Progressive

          agree it is a very difficult and dangerous job, but he chose to do that job and he also chose to pursue the car, undoubtedly for his money, when he didn’t necessarily have to.  i think the bonillas made a lot of mistakes here, but he did as well.

    2. Barack Palin

      I was thinking the same thing Frankly.

      They were not aware of who it was, and their home had been broken into two months before and they thought it was the same person.

      Ms. Bonilla said she usually pays the bills, so Guillermo forgot to pay on her car.

      However, unbeknownst to them, the second payment never went through because their account was frozen by Chase due to some issues with Guillermo’s trucking business.

      Ms. Bonilla said that the DMV had simply lost the plates

      She told the Vanguard that the repo man followed her off the property and chased her as she sped around West Sacramento for 30 minutes. In one hand she was talking to the bank, in the other she was talking to the police dispatcher.

      This story is full of holes, too many convenient circumstances for me to believe.  She sped around West Sac with both hands on phones, she should be a Nascar driver?  The DMV just happened to lose the plates and the VIN just happened to be covered?  Someone knocks on their door at 9 a.m. and they assume it was the same person that robbed their house, because we all know that robbers always go back to the scene of a crime and knock on the front door?  The old I thought my wife paid the bill?  Bank account just happened to get frozen?  It’s all possible but I’m not buying it.

       

      1. Davis Progressive

        the story is full of questions that can be answered with documentation.  if she called the police, they’ll have a record of that.  if their paper work was botched by the bank, they’ll have a record of that.  the dmv records can be retrieved as well.  was the vin covered?  that was a claim of the repo man.  do they have a statement from the bank on the lack of late payments from may?  if they do, then it is curious that they would repossess it that quickly – but again, they should have the documentation for all of that.  so if it goes to a court of law – either the documents will vindicate them or they won’t.

  2. Napoleon Pig IV

    That repo man is lucky he didn’t end up in a bloody heap on the sidewalk. As for SWAT, they are deployed way too often, and even more so when they don’t have a warrant. Need for armored military vehicles in the hands of local police? Yeah, right. Oink!

  3. gherplanes

    This case seems like a complete waist of tax dollars, police on a witch hunt and racial profiling at its finest, why would you need a swat team? for a supposedly stolen item after the case had been resolved with the bank! people dont like to talk about it, but racism is real not just racism but abuse.

Leave a Reply

X Close

Newsletter Sign-Up

X Close

Monthly Subscriber Sign-Up

Enter the maximum amount you want to pay each month
$ USD
Sign up for