General Crime

* Closing Arguments For Alleged Cop Killer Alberto Alvarez in Murder of East Palo Alto Police Officer Richard May

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East Palo Alto police Officer Richard May and the man on trial for allegedly fatally shooting him in January 2006 each had a number of choices to make the day of May’s death, and it was the suspect who chose wrong, a prosecuting attorney said during closing arguments today. Alberto Alvarez, 26, who could face the death penalty in San Mateo County Superior Court if convicted, woke up the morning of Jan. 7, 2006, and made the choice to resume his life as a drug dealer, carry a gun and
ultimately shoot May “execution-style,” prosecuting attorney Steve Wagstaffe said. “On that fateful day, that man made the choice that he would go on with his employment, with a gun and an extra clip of ammo,” Wagstaffe said. “He made the decision to go to battle with whatever was in his path that day,” he said. However, defense attorney Charles Robinson said during his closing arguments that Alvarez did shoot May, but only after May shot him first in what Robinson called “unnecessary and unreasonable force.”Robinson said the shooting was not an execution, and that May made mistakes that day that cost him his life.”It’s very hard for me to stand here and tell you that a police officer was wrong,” Robinson told the jury this afternoon. “But they are human. Sometimes they make mistakes.” The incident began when May responded to a report of a disturbance at Villa Taqueria on University Avenue in East Palo Alto shortly after 4 p.m. The disturbance involved Alvarez, who had gotten into a fight with at least one other person inside the restaurant, Alvarez testified during the trial. After the fight, which other patrons helped break up, Alvarez said he left the restaurant and was walking on University Avenue when he saw a police car. May, the officer in that car, yelled to Alvarez, “I’d stop if I were you,” according to multiple witnesses. Robinson today called that statement a threat, and said it enhanced his argument that May “acted outside the legal scope of his duties” when he chased Alvarez across Weeks Street and onto the driveway of a home where the shootout occurred and May died.He said, “Alvarez was acting to protect his own life” when he shot May, and that Alvarez only fired his gun after May shot him first. Wagstaffe contends that Alvarez initially shot May, and that May was able to fire one return shot at Alvarez, which struck him in the leg. Closing arguments are expected to resume Tuesday morning. Alvarez remains in custody without bail.

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