by Clara Zhao and Edward Garcia
Testimony Continues in Trial of Suspected Gang Members
by Clara Zhao
On Friday, October 27, the case of Joshua Armond Cadenaz-Lopez and Ricky Gomez Hernandez reconvened in Department 14. The defendants are suspected of being involved in gang activities in Sacramento.
The first witness summoned that day was Officer Nick Barreiro of the West Sacramento Police Department.
In his testimony, the officer said he was dispatched to an alley following a report of teenagers painting graffiti, and that the woman who reported the graffiti identified Mr. Cadenaz-Lopez as a suspect.
The graffiti was done on city property, and photographs of the graffiti that Officer Barreiro had taken that day were displayed on the projector. Much of the graffiti depicted gang symbols related to the Broderick Boys, an affiliation of residents of the Broderick neighborhood of West Sacramento, with alleged ties to the Norteño criminal street gang. However, during cross-examination, the officer admitted that he did not find spray paint cans with Cadenaz-Lopez.
The second witness called to the stand was Deputy Michael Rogers, a sergeant with the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department and a member of the department’s gang suppression unit.
Rogers testified that in June of 2013 he stopped a vehicle for traffic violations while patrolling, and defendant Hernandez was in the car with a male and an older female. Rogers admitted he had made an error in earlier reports in which he stated that Hernandez was the driver, when the driver was actually the other male.
Both Hernandez and the other male had possible gang symbols on their bodies, including red shorts (red being a significant color of the notorious Norteño gang ) and four dots on his hands corresponding to the fourteenth letter of alphabet, which happens to be N. In addition, Rogers found a red bandana and a red pen in the back of the car.
Hernandez admitted to being in the Norteño gang.
During cross-examination, the defense attorney asked Rogers if it were possible for wannabe gangsters to also possess these gang-related items, to which Rogers replied yes. The attorney also questioned Rogers’ memory, as Rogers had to refer to his report several times during his testimony.
Rogers said he remembered the traffic stop and that both Hernandez and the other male fulfilled criteria for being gang suspects: having gang-related tattoos, having gang-related clothing, and admitting to being in a gang.
The defense then asked Rogers if he had been sent out looking for gang members, and Rogers replied affirmatively. Rogers also admitted that a traffic violation was a common probable cause to pull over suspicious vehicles.
After Rogers’ testimony, a third witness, Officer Kyle McGill of the Sacramento Police Department, took the stand.
McGill testified that in March of 2016 he stopped a vehicle for having expired registration and identified Cadenaz-Lopez in the vehicle. Upon searching the vehicle, he found ammunition for a certain type of revolver, a replica firearm, and a knife by the driver’s seat.
However, during cross-examination McGill admitted that Cadenaz-Lopez did not have anything on him that identified him as a gang member.
At noon the court adjourned for lunch.
Afternoon Police Testimony in Robbery Case
By Edward Garcia
After lunch, witness testimony continued with Lindsey Lamb—a Sacramento County Sheriff’s deputy—testifying to an incident on October 9, 2011.
On this day, Dep. Lamb was dispatched to West Sacramento to identify a vehicle with numerous individuals smoking marijuana. She located the vehicle with the defendant, Mr. Cadenaz-Lopez, and three other individuals inside.
This short testimony was followed by that of an innocent bystander who witnessed the hit-and-run on October 20, 2016.
The bystander was at a storage unit when she saw the collision occur. One of the cars, she stated, had numerous individuals sitting in it. The driver of the other car stepped out and walked toward the front of his car, then another vehicle came out of nowhere and hit him.
After hitting the individual, the vehicle just took off. “It was just so fast,” the bystander said.
After Judge Rosenberg excused the witness, the People called to the stand numerous police officers, starting with Jeremy Schwartz. An officer with the Sacramento Police Department, Schwartz was brought to testify in relation to the gang enhancement charges.
On April 1, 2016, Officer Schwartz stated he was dispatched to the light rail station on 16th Street to identify individuals who were allegedly involved in a fight. The individuals were described to him as being four male Hispanics in their late teens to early twenties. Officer Schwartz located two of them, one of which was Mr. Hernandez, heading northeast on 15th Street.
He used his speaker to tell them to stop but this didn’t work. Officer Schwartz had to drive up to the suspects—against oncoming traffic—and point his gun at them before they decided to stop.
The two individuals were breathing heavily and sweating, Schwartz testified. The defendant was also bleeding from his mouth. The individual accompanying Mr. Hernandez was identified as a validated gang member.
This prompted Officer Schwartz to ask the defendant for his criminal record. Mr. Hernandez told him that he had “done his dirt in the 209,” apparently referring to the area code.
Moving on to the next incident, Deputy DA Hasapes asked Officer Schwartz to describe an incident that occurred three years ago.
On June 26, 2014, Officer Schwartz was checking patrons at the light rail station—specifically the City College terminal—when he came across Mr. Hernandez and four other individuals.
The defendant didn’t have enough fare to ride the train.
Schwartz asked them for identification. They all readily provided it or verbally identified themselves.
Mr. Hasapes asked what the five individuals were wearing. In response, Officer Schwartz highlighted the amount of red clothing they had on. The defendant was wearing a red San Francisco 49ers jersey and hat.
“He could only name one player on the team,” Officer Schwartz stated.
Furthermore, Schwartz’s testimony also took note of Mr. Hernandez’s tattoos.
When he ran a background check on the other four individuals, the system identified three of them as validated gang members.
To end his direct, Mr. Hasapes asked Officer Schwartz to explain the type of criteria needed to validate someone as a gang member. In this instance, Schwartz said the defendant fit three of the known criteria: associating with gang members, gang-style clothing, and gang-style tattoos.
The other four individuals also fit the same criteria.
In response, Deputy Public Defender Lance started her cross-examination on behalf of Mr. Hernandez by asking if any charges were filed for these incidents. “No,” Schwartz responded.
He went on to explain that the defendant was cooperative and posed no problem to him.
Mr. Jem Martin, attorney for Cadenaz-Lopez, picked up the cross-examination and focused on the incident on June 26, 2014. He questioned how a high-income neighborhood could be in gang territory. Officer Schwartz clarified he did not know of any Broderick Boys gang involvement or of any other gang’s specific involvement, but noted the station is typically covered with graffiti.
After Schwartz was excused, Officer Steven Fontana was called to the stand to describe his role on April 1, 2016. Along with Officer Schwartz, Fontana responded to the dispatch.
Consistent with previous testimony, Officer Fontana stated he was dispatched to the light rail station on 16th street to locate numerous individuals involved in a fight.
At the intersection of 16th and U Streets, Fontana identified two individuals fitting the descriptions given to him. He turned on his headlights, got out of his vehicle, and approached. The two suspects seemed reluctant to stop, but they eventually did.
He stopped them and asked for identification. While conducting a pat down, Officer Fontana found a four-inch fixed-blade knife.
The People asked if Officer Fontana had run a validated gang member check.
“Absolutely, that’s one of the main checks that we do,” he said. Although the two suspects did not suggest any gang ties, the background check identified one of them as a gang member.
After the defense declined cross-examination, the next witness—Officer David Turner—was brought to the stand to testify about his involvement in the same incident. Very much like previous statements, Officer Turner said he headed to the light rail station attempting to identify four to five individuals, when he came across one hiding in a stairwell.
After stopping that individual, Officer Turner stated he ran the normal procedure: pat down, identification, background check.
He could not provide information in regard to the individual’s demeanor. When asked if the individual was a validated gang member, Turner could not recall this information either.
The short cross-examination by Mr. Martin focused on how the suspect was located. Officer Turner explained that civilians were pointing him to the direction of the suspect.
Officer Turner finished his testimony by stating he could not recall any gang-related clothing on the individual.
Moving away from the light rail station incident, Officer Christopher Jensen was brought in by the People to give testimony on a traffic stop that took place on March 19, 2016. His testimony was also related purely to the gang enhancement charges.
Officer Jensen quickly described a traffic stop involving Mr. Cadenaz-Lopez. During the stop, he found a .22 caliber rifle in the trunk of the vehicle. The rifle was loaded with four rounds of ammunition.
The defense again declined cross-examination, and court was adjourned for the day.
The trial will resume on October 30 in Department 14.
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