Jury selection began Monday in the death penalty trial of a man accused of gunning down a San Diego police officer nearly five years ago.
Jesse Michael Gomez, 60, is charged with murder and attempted murder, with a special circumstance allegation of murder of a police officer, for allegedly shooting Officer Jonathan "J.D." De Guzman, 43, and fellow gang-unit Officer Wade Irwin in the Southcrest neighborhood on the night of July 28, 2016.
De Guzman, a 16-year veteran of the San Diego Police Department, died at a hospital, while Irwin was shot in the neck and hospitalized for nearly a month.
The jury selection process for Gomez's trial is anticipated to take more than a week.
The trial, which includes separate guilt and penalty phases in capital punishment cases, could last as long as two months, according to the San Diego County District Attorney's Office.
At the defendant's preliminary hearing in 2019, Irwin testified that as he and De Guzman were patrolling the area, they saw two men split up and start walking along the north and south sidewalks of Acacia Grove Way. Irwin said he believed the man on the south side was someone else he had previously arrested. De Guzman stopped the car and Irwin got out of the passenger side, leaving the door open, he said.
Irwin testified that he asked the man if he lived near the area and was shot "almost immediately." He testified the gunman then approached the open passenger door of the patrol car and fired into the vehicle, where De Guzman was sitting.
After De Guzman was shot, Irwin said he drew his gun and fired on the shooter, who was running eastbound.
Gomez was taken into custody in a ravine off South 38th Street, a short distance from the scene, and was hospitalized with a gunshot wound to his upper body.
He remains jailed without bail.