OAKLAND (CBS SF) — An Alameda County prosecutor told jurors Tuesday that an East Palo Alto man should be convicted of three counts of premeditated attempted murder of a police officer for shooting at three officers in Menlo Park in 2015.
Prosecutor John Brouhard said in his closing argument in the trial of 26-year-old Haloti Lauese that the three officers “almost got killed trying to capture violent criminals,” referring to Lauese and two other men who were involved in the events on April 29, 2015.
Brouhard told jurors that Lauese’s shots missed Newark officers Lisa Schwerin and Jeffrey Saunders and Fremont Detective Jeff Lawrence and “luckily you were able to meet all three officers” when they testified against Lauese.
Brouhard said the events began when Lauese, Demetrius Crayton and Shawn Thomas committed a home invasion robbery at an apartment building in the 39800 block of Fremont Boulevard in Fremont on April 29, 2015, in which they stole marijuana, a laptop, a cellphone and cash.
He said Lawrence had just finished his shift and was on his way home but when he heard over a police radio that there had been an armed robbery and shots had been fired he decided to help chase the suspects, spotted them approaching the Dumbarton Bridge and followed them to the 1300 block of Willow Road in Menlo Park.
Brouhard said Schwerin and Saunders chased the suspects in another patrol car.
Brouhard said, “There’s no doubt the defendant (Lauese) is one of the robbers” and told jurors the evidence against him is “overwhelming.”
Lauese’s attorney Stephen Avilla didn’t deny that Lauese was involved in the robbery, saying “obviously some items were taken,” and admitted that Lauese fired shots.
But Avilla said Lauese was only shooting in the general direction of the officers as he tried to flee and didn’t intend to kill them.
Avilla said Lauese didn’t specifically tell the officers he intended to kill them and said if he’d really wanted to kill them he wouldn’t have dropped his gun when he jumped over a fence while he was trying to flee.
“None of us are mind-readers,” Avilla told jurors in arguing that there’s insufficient evidence to prove that Lauese intended to kill the officers.
Jurors will begin deliberating Lauese’s fate after Brouhard presents his rebuttal closing argument on Wednesday.
Thomas pleaded no contest to robbery with the special use of a firearm and Crayton pleaded guilty to one count of home invasion robbery in concert with the use of a firearm. Both men will be sentenced after Lauese’s trial is completed.
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