April 26, 2016 (San Diego) The court came to order and Judge Kenneth So asked that the questioning of Detective Chris Katra. There were a few lose ends from the previous day. (Link) One of those lose ends was Robert Branch’s fear that the phone he used to record the video, would somehow disappear or be damaged. He did not trust Detective Paul Ward on this.
This fear would play a major role in the next phase of the hearing. The people called District Attorney Investigator Detective Bobby Dean. During the hearing the court had three tapes from the jail house, that were played in quick succession and happened within an hour. They were made by Branch.
While he admits in the calls that he drove recklessly, there were other issues in the tapes that back what he said during a previous hearing. He did state to his mother, “I thought I was going to die,” also he told his sister the tin the taped conversation that he did say in the video that if he died, to tell his mother that he loved her.
Branch also stated repeatedly his fear that the phone evidence would be destroyed. It was also clear that he intended to go to the news services, (Channel 10 was the first one to take the story), and to sue the Sheriff’s Department. He also repeatedly said that he was abused and that his neck hurt.
During the call Branch’s mother did point out to her son, that “you got to be careful around here with the police.” In her opinion Ward also got mad.
The calls reveal that Branch, (who has been arrested before in another state) knew some of how bail bondsmen work. But also he realized that he might have a legal case against the County. One that he wanted to pursue starting the night of the arrest.
After the people rested, the defense asked Pablo Martinez to the stand. Martinez was laying dry wall in the house across where the confrontation happened. He also did not want to become a witness, since he has had a bad experience with the police in the past.
From his vantage point, first from the second floor and then after he got down, he told the court what he saw. He stated that the first thing that caught his attention when asked by the defense was “two cars approached pretty fast…one was chasing the other.”
During both the people and defense presentation it was clearly established that Martinez heard Branch ask Ward in Martinez’s words to, “show me your badge. Show me you are an officer!” There was also doubt in Martinez’s mind that Ward was an officer. He also established that at the end Branch sat at the opposite sidewalk from where confrontation started, “whacked up, dizzy.” This was after Branch was rendered unconscious.
Also District Attorney Michael Runyon established firmly that for Martinez what he witnessed, based on his own experience was police brutality. This goes to how reliable the witness is, and whether his testimony could be called into question.
Lastly the defense called former San Diego Sheriffs Detective Mark Karo, who had an encounter with Detective Ward while at work. It is not because he witnessed this encounter between Ward and Branch, but becuase it proceeded it and in the mind of the defense established the state of mind of Detective Ward.
According to Karo, Ward came behind him and tapped him on the shoulder, hard enough to push him forward as he sat at his computer station writing a report. Ward was angry and told Karo not to “f ing talking sht about me.” He was using obscenities and put his finger about three times into his chest.
He also said that he felt threatened by Ward and when he talked to the Threat Assessment Unit, he believed that Ward was going to hurt somebody.
Karl was terminated from the Sheriffs Department for cause, with the people established. Though they were never able to establish that he blamed Ward for this. Also, in full disclosure, Karo is considered suing the County for the termination which he feels was in retaliation for completing that Internal Affairs did not handle his complaint about Ward correctly.
Both sides rested and tomorrow they will have their closing arguments.