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Judge rejects no-jail plea deal for L.A. deputy charged in death of suicidal man

A Los Angeles County judge made the rare decision to reject a negotiated plea agreement Friday that would have allowed a sheriff’s deputy to avoid jail time on assault charges stemming from the 2021 shooting death of a suicidal man outside his family’s East L.A. home.

Judge Michael Pastor refused to accept the deal — which would have seen Deputy Remin Pineda receive probation and give up his right to be a cop in California — after hearing emotional pleas from the family of 34-year-old David Ordaz Jr., who was shot to death by four deputies while holding a knife and asking police to kill him in March 2021.

“I am furious that our system allows Pineda to walk around like nothing happened. What about David?” asked his oldest sister, Hilda Pedroza, during a series of tearful victim impact statements delivered in court Friday. “David doesn’t get to walk like he does. If the tables were turned, David would be put in jail in a second.”

Pineda was charged with assault with a firearm and assault under color of authority last year. Prosecutors determined they didn’t have enough evidence to charge two other deputies who shot Ordaz Jr., and said a third acted in lawful self-defense. But Pineda’s use of force was excessive, according to L.A. County Deputy Dist. Atty. Guy Shirley, who said the deputy continued shooting even after Ordaz Jr. was on the ground and fired at least one round after he dropped the knife.

Steven Alvarado, an attorney representing Pineda, declined to comment after the hearing. The Sheriff’s Department did not respond to a request for comment on the status of the other deputies involved in Ordaz Jr.’s death. Pineda is due back in court in December.

“We continue to believe that the charges are substantiated by the evidence and are prepared to move forward with a preliminary hearing and trial,” said Venusse Navid, a spokeswoman for the district attorney’s office. “Beyond that, it would be inappropriate to comment as the matter is pending litigation.”

Pedroza said the district attorney’s office did not consult the family before reaching a deal with Pineda, and only informed her of the terms two weeks ago. Most of her family believed Friday’s hearing was a formality but they wanted to make sure a judge and prosecutors heard their pain.

“I thought it’s not going to make a difference. There’s no point. They already made up their minds,” Pedroza said outside the courthouse. “I was really shocked. I did not think this was going to be possible. The first words out of my mouth were ‘Thank God! Thank God!’ ”

After Pastor’s ruling, nearly two dozen of Ordaz Jr.’s loved ones could be seen crying and hugging in a third-floor hallway of the downtown courthouse, many of them wearing pins emblazoned with Ordaz Jr.’s face.

Pineda was one of several deputies who responded to a 2021 call for help after Ordaz Jr. armed himself with a blade and told his sister he was suicidal at his family’s home in March 2021.

When deputies confronted Ordaz Jr., he was holding a 12-inch kitchen knife and told deputies he wanted them to shoot him, according to body camera footage taken at the scene.

“That’s not what we want to do, man,” Pineda said, according to court records.

Ordaz Jr. was standing about 10 feet from the deputies, who repeatedly said they didn’t want to hurt him and ordered him to drop the knife, according to the video. As his family begged him to let go of the weapon, Ordaz Jr. asked the deputies to summon a helicopter and a news chopper, the footage shows.

Eventually, deputies fired beanbag rounds in an effort to subdue him. When Ordaz Jr. took several steps forward, they fired their service weapons, killing him with a barrage of at least a dozen bullets. The gunfire continued as Ordaz Jr. collapsed and his relatives screamed out, according to the video.

Pineda kept firing after the other deputies stopped shooting, even as Ordaz Jr. “continued to lie on the ground on the right side of his body,” according to a 13-page memo explaining the district attorney’s office’s filing decisions in the case.

Another deputy told him to stop, but Pineda fired another round even while Ordaz Jr. was on the ground, disarmed. Shirley said Pineda fired eight times in total.

Ordaz Jr. left behind three children. His partner, Jasmine Moreno, said Friday that he had been struggling with anxiety and depression at the time of the shooting. One of his sisters told 911 dispatchers she also feared he had used methamphetamine on the day of the shooting. An autopsy found several types of narcotics in his bloodstream, records show.

The victim’s father, David Ordaz, said the incident has destroyed his family and left him incapable of ever trusting law enforcement.

“If I have to call the police again, what am I to expect … for them to come and help me or for them to come and kill me or my family?” he asked through a Spanish interpreter.

Pedroza said she believes her brother would still be alive today if she hadn’t called the sheriff’s department.

“I know that my error was calling my local sheriff’s station and this will be something I have to live with for the rest of my life. That will be my torment,” she said. “I’m scared to be out in the world. I’m scared to drive and be stopped by deputies. I’m scared to walk on the sidewalk where David was killed. My heart is broken. I feel like I don’t belong in this world. I have lost my place in it.”

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