Prosecutors allege a man accused of ramming his vehicle into an Oceanside police officer laughed about the attempted killing when questioned by detectives.
Roberto Ignacio Flores, 26, of San Marcos, appeared in court Wednesday for charges of first-degree attempted murder of a peace officer, hit-and-run causing great bodily injury and assault against a peace officer.
Detectives posed as inmates to question Flores during an undercover jail cell operation, known as a Perkins Operation, said prosecutors. Flores allegedly admitted to intentionally striking the officer.
He told detectives that he was close enough to the officer to see his eyes when he struck him. He then laughingly made a joke to detectives about the victim being on life support, said prosecutors.
"The defendant says I was so close to the police officer, I could read his eyes," said Prosecutor Keith Watanabe. "He says the cop didn't expect what I was gonna do, and he says maybe he's on life support or something, and he begins laughing."
Flores’ defense attorney argued that the defendant's comments to the detectives were made to improve his standing among inmates.
Seven of Hunter's fellow motorcycle officers appeared in court to show him their support, despite objections from Flores' lawyer.
Flores was already out on bail for an open felony case when the alleged attempted killing took place, said prosecutors. He will go to trial on this separate case later.
Oceanside Police Department Officer Brad Hunter, a 29-year veteran of the department, survived the attack despite suffering a shattered leg and a severe head injury that left him in a medically-induced coma for days.
Hunter has no memory of the day he was struck by a vehicle on June 19, 2017. It happened while he was conducting a traffic stop at Foussat Road, just south of Oceanside Blvd.
While still recovering from serious injuries, Hunter took the stand and identified his tattered uniform, pulling out a photo of his wife behind his badge.
"It was very difficult for me to see, my vision was very blurred and very narrow, but in that brief glimpse of memory, they told me that I’d been hit by a car and I was in the hospital," said Hunter.
The last moment Hunter can recall after he was attacked is waking up in the hospital, surrounded by his wife, daughters and a friend.
Michael Patton, the driver who witnessed the attack while he was receiving a traffic citation from Hunter, described the traumatic incident in court.
"I felt and heard the impact and looked up, to see the officer airborne and in front of my car," said Patton. "He landed on the ground, kind of curled up in a fetal position, and my gaze went to--oh my gosh who hit us--and saw the car speeding down the street."
If convicted in both cases, Flores faces a maximum sentence of 29 years to life in state prison.
The judge set his bail at $5 million because of his flight risk and the separate open felony case, prosecutors said. His bail for the separate felony case was set at $50,000.