A former Daly City police officer who held a gun to a suspected car thief in 2006 and screamed at him to point out all the stolen cars in the neighborhood, was sentenced to 90 days in jail and a year’s probation Thursday.
Alfonso Esqueda, 34, was eligible for up to a year in state prison after jurors convicted him in October of brandishing a weapon in a threatening manner, which constitutes a misdemeanor. Esqueda was acquitted of one count of felony police brutality and the judge declared a mistrial after jurors deadlocked on two other felonies — assault with a semiautomatic weapon and a second count of police brutality.
During the 10-day trial, Esqueda’s fellow officers testified that after Esqueda arrested suspected car thief Melecio Macawile on
July 29, 2006, for giving a false name, the officer held a gun to Macawile’s head and harassed him. Esqueda then allegedly put Macawile in the back of his patrol car and drove around, threatening to kill Macawile if he did not give him the information.
Deputy District Attorney Aaron Fitzgerald on Thursday asked Judge Marie Weiner to impose a five-month jail term, saying that Esqueda joked about the incident to his co-workers and still shows no remorse.
Esqueda’s attorney, Michael Rains, said his client drew his gun because he thought he might be in danger. Macawile, an admitted methamphetamine user, was angry and had run from police in the past, Rains said.
"I’m not sure why there should be remorse. He had to make a tough decision and I think he made the right one," Rains said.
Rains asked Weiner to suspend his client’s jail sentence in favor of probationonly. Esqueda is the primary wage earner for his family, Rains said. On Thursday, Rains presented Weiner with numerous letters in support of his client.
Under the terms of his probation, Esqueda will not be allowed to possess a firearm for the next 10 years and will have to submit to searches by law enforcement officers.
"He’s an imminently trustworthy person, so at a visceral level it’s upsetting to think about," Rains said of the searches.
But for Esqueda, no sentence can compare to losing his career as a police officer, Rains said.