An attorney representing an alleged Decoto gang member accused of shooting an undercover Fremont cop last August says her client acted in self-defense.
According to media reports, defense attorney Barbara Thomas said , 21, of Union City, "was simply doing something in self-defense to save his life" when he shot and critically wounded Fremont police Officer Todd Young on Aug. 27, 2010 in East Oakland.
Young and fellow Officer Eric Tang, who were working undercover and dressed in plain clothes, were attempting to arrest Barrientos on two outstanding warrants.
"When you're swooped down on in Oakland by a person with a gun, you don't stop to check the person; you run or you die," Thomas said during Barrientos' attempted-murder trial, which began Monday morning in Oakland.
According to the Oakland Tribune, Thomas did not deny that Barrientos shot Young, but suggested that the officers fired at him first.
However, deputy district attorney John Brouhard said during his opening statements that Barrientos was not acting out of fear and that he fired 10 rounds from a 9mm handgun, striking Young twice in the pelvis and nearly killing him.
Young and Tang were trying to arrest Barrientos at 2009 Auseon Ave., near Bancroft Avenue, at about 2:30 p.m. after receiving a tip that he would be at the address. They were working in Oakland as part of the Southern Alameda County Major Crimes Task Force and had a warrant for Barrientos' arrest for an incident in April as well as for allegedly threatening his ex-girlfriend with a gun in San Leandro on Aug. 13.
The officers saw Barrientos walking toward a truck and jumped out of their unmarked Mazda sedan. Young was wearing a T-shirt and jeans with a badge hanging from his neck. According to Brouhard, the officers told Barrientos to freeze.
Brouhard played an audio recording of the incident captured by the Oakland Police Department’s “Shot Spotter” gunfire detection system in which ten shots are fired, followed by Young yelling that he was hit.
The prosecutor suggested that Barrientos was trying to kill Young not only to escape arrest but to gain rank in his gang, the Oakland Tribune reported.
"To be the person that killed a police officer, that is the top of the corporate ladder of gangs,” Brouhard said during the Monday morning trial opening.
After Young was shot, Barrientos carjacked a vehicle and fled to Hayward where he was picked up by fellow alleged gang member Francisco Sierra, 30, according to Brouhard. Gustavo Silva, 24, another alleged gang member, helped Barrientos flee to Southern California but was arrested near the Mexican border the day after the shooting.
Silva and Sierra, who are also from Union City, were previously charged with being accessories to attempted murder.
Young spent more than seven weeks at Highland Hospital in Oakland, where he underwent numerous surgeries to address serious bladder problems and had to receive blood transfusions. According to the Oakland Tribune, Young is still recovering from the incident and is expected to testify during the trial.
Barrientos' trial continues Tuesday at 9 a.m. at the Rene C. Davidson Courthouse.
Bay City News Service contributed to this report