OAKLAND (BCN) – A man was sentenced Thursday morning to 50 years to life for killing Hayward Police Sgt. Scott Lunger nearly seven years ago.
In a packed courtroom of family and friends for defendant Mark Estrada as well as police and Lunger’s family, Judge C. Don Clay announced the sentence following a negotiated disposition. The case did not go to trial.
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“Mark Estrada did a senseless act,” Clay told members of the courtroom.
At about 3:10 am on July 22, 2015, police say Lunger pulled over the then-21-year-old Estrada during a routine traffic stop in a Hayward neighborhood. After Lunger got to Estrada’s vehicle, Estrada shot Lunger in the head.
Estrada’s mother Raquel Estrada said her son plans to appeal. Mark Estrada made a motion earlier in April to withdraw his no-contest plea and Clay denied it, according to the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office.
“This is a very bad day for everybody,” Raquel Estrada said.
But she said her son is not violent. She thinks her son acted in self-defense. She alleged Lunger was trying to scare her son to make him run.
“He’s not a cold-blooded killer,” she said of Mark.
Lunger’s father spoke to members of the courtroom before the sentencing was handed down. He said what Estrada did has “given us (the family) a life sentence of grief.”
Lunger’s longtime girlfriend said Lunger and her had talked about marriage. She called July 22 the “most horrific day of my life.”
“Life without Scott is difficult,” she said.
Detective Justin Green, Lunger’s partner the night he was killed, described Lunger as a leader in the department and a role model for younger officers.
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“Scott Lunger meant something to me,” he told courtroom members.
He said he feels a sense of failure because Lunger is no longer living. He was at Lunger’s side following the shooting.
Lunger’s daughters also addressed the court, saying how they will miss having their father walk them down the aisle when they get married and how he missed their college graduations.
“My dad is missing it all,” his youngest daughter said. The family did not immediately speak to reporters following the hearing.
“My world was shattered,” his oldest daughter said. Lunger was her coach, mentor, fishing buddy and inspiration, among other things.
“But mostly my best friend,” she said.
Cesar Cruz, who holds a doctorate from Harvard University and is co-founder of Homies Empowerment in Oakland, told members of the courtroom that Hispanic people have a fear of police historically.
“There is a huge climate of fear,” Cruz said, citing former President Donald Trump calling Mexican people rapists.
Cruz said that does not excuse what Estrada did, but he thinks it’s important to put things into context.
“I do not think everything is black and white,” Cruz said. He said he did not know either Estrada or Lunger.
He said everyone wants all lives to matter, but Black and Hispanic lives seem to matter the least.
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Cruz named several Hispanic people killed by police in the Bay Area, including Sean Monterrosa, Erik Salgado and 13-year-old Andy Lopez.