PEOPLE v. SOLANO
Court of Appeals of California, Second District, Division Seven.
Filed May 16, 2011.
2. The First Trial
a. The People's evidence
A search warrant for the home in which Solano and members of his extended family were living was obtained based on information Solano, a suspected member of the Northside Bolen Parque gang, was selling illegal drugs from the residence. At 5:00 a.m on February 27, 2008, 13 officers of the Baldwin Park Police Department's special response team and additional police personnel executed the warrant. Officers knocked on the front door and announced their presence in Spanish and English. After hearing what sounded like someone running away from the door, officers began to forcibly enter the home. Because officers were having a difficult time prying open the metal security door, another officer broke a nearby window to cause a distraction and to see into the residence while officers continued making announcements. About 10 seconds later, as officers were entering through the front door, Solano fired a gun at them. Officers returned fire, hitting Solano in the chest and neck.
Eight people, including children, were in the home when the search warrant was executed. Guillermo Solis, the long-time boyfriend of Solano's mother, Leticia, and father of two children with her, testified he was sleeping in the living room with Leticia and their son when he was awakened by pounding on the door. After the window broke he saw police officers wearing uniforms and helmets and heard them say, "Police, open the door." Solano's younger sister, Crystal Solano, testified she was sleeping in one of the two bedrooms with three people when she was awakened by banging on the doors and windows and screaming. Crystal ran into the living room to see what was happening, and her mother was screaming Guillermo's name. Crystal heard officers yelling, "search warrant, search warrant." Crystal began pulling her mother toward the bedroom when the shooting began.
Officers recovered a revolver from under Solano's leg, 400 grams of marijuana from the bedroom, two scales and two boxes of plastic sandwich bags. Baldwin Park Police Officer Mike Hemenway, one of the officers who executed the search warrant and an expert on possession of narcotics for sale, opined, given "the packaging material, the scales, the amount of marijuana, and the firearm," the marijuana, valued at between $350 and $6,000, was possessed for sale. Officer Hemenway explained the purpose of the firearm was "to protect [Solano] from people that want to steal from him or the police."
Baldwin Park Police Detective Mark Adams, also a member of the special response team, testified both as a participant in the incident and as an expert on criminal street gangs. In addition to testifying to the primary criminal activities of Northside Bolen Parque (vandalism, theft, robbery, witness intimidation and violent crimes), the gang's alliance with the Mexican Mafia and evidence of Solano's membership in the gang),3 Detective Adams opined, "The act of shooting at a police officer, without a doubt, has an effect on [Solano's] status within the gang." Detective Adams explained, "Each and every time that a police officer is assaulted by a member of a gang, the members of that gang hold that individual in higher esteem. They know that he's ruthless, that he's basically instilled in the community a fear that the gang is willing to assault anybody." "It allows the gang to operate with impunity because they definitely don't fear that the community is going to call the police when they are that ruthless. They are willing to take out a member of the community if they are willing to take out a police officer."
Detective Adams identified photographs of graffiti taken near Solano's home approximately nine months after the incident. One photo stated, "FUCK THE PIGS!" with an NSBP notation near it; another photo taken near the first had graffiti including, "FUCK THE COPS."