Plea agreement reached for man shot by Claremont police
Marcel Esparza Herrera, the man accused of assault with a deadly weapon against a Claremont police officer that shot him, has entered into a plea agreement with the Los Angeles County District Attorney today in Pomona Superior Court.
Dressed in a blue jail-issued jumpsuit, Mr. Herrera was escorted into the courtroom in handcuffs and took a seat at the defendant’s table. The accused bounced in his seat from time to time and smiled briefly at his family sitting in the otherwise empty courtroom. He took a moment before the preliminary hearing to apologize to his family.
“I’m sorry for all I’ve done to you guys,” he said, adding, “Don’t cry ma, I’m good. God is good, I’m getting another chance to restore my life.”
After conferring with his attorney, Kenneth Wenzl, Mr. Herrera entered a plea of no contest to two of the three felony counts against him, including assault upon a police officer and unlawful driving or taking of a vehicle. The 24-year-old also agreed to pay damages.
As part of the plea deal presented by Deputy District Attorney Duke Chau, a third count of possession of a controlled substance was dismissed.
Judge Thomas C. Falls accepted the plea and set a sentencing date of June 24.
There are three additional cases pending in Pomona court against the accused– two probation violations and a third misdemeanor charge of resisting, delaying or obstructing officer from an unrelated incident in April. Those cases will be held over until the sentencing date, giving Judge Falls an opportunity to review Mr. Herrera’s probation report that was not available in court Tuesday morning.
Based on the remaining charges, Mr. Herrera faces a maximum sentence of 5 years and 8 months in state prison. However, with the plea agreement, the Pomona resident is looking at 3 years in a state facility but will most likely serve about 18 months of that sentence.
As the COURIER previously reported, Lt. Jason Walters shot the accused at about 3 a.m. on May 5 while patrolling in search of a reported stolen vehicle. As the officer drove closer to the vehicle, the car sped away. Moments later, police located the car, which appeared to be empty and approached the car on foot. The driver, Mr. Herrera, suddenly put the car in reverse toward the officer, at which time, the officer shot at the vehicle striking the accused in the upper left torso.
According to Detective Torres with Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Homicide Bureau, the department has concluded their investigation into the officer involved shooting. “The results of that investigation are in the process of being sent to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Officer Involved Shooting team for review,” said Det. Torres.
The COURIER will report on the results of those findings when they become available.
The Claremont Police Department declined to comment on this case.