Case Dismissed against Sunnyside Cinco De Mayo Shooting Suspect
A 13-year-old boy, who police describe as an active gang member in the lower valley will not faces charges in connection to the May 6 shooting at the Sunnyside Cinco De Mayo celebration in downtown Sunnyside. Yakima County Prosecutor Joe Brusic says the only eyewitness to the crime isn't available. As a result the First Degree Assault case against Angel Damian Mendoza has been dismissed.
California law hampered efforts to bring the witness back to Washington
Mendoza faced five counts of First Degree Assault in connection to the shooting. In a press release from the Yakima County Prosecutors Office Brusic says "in preparation for trial the State of Washington asked for and obtained a material witness bench warrant for the only eyewitness to come forward and provide a statement." Brusic however says the juvenile male and his family moved to California recently and did not want to voluntarily return. That's when Brusic says the "state obtained a nationwide warrant for the arrest of the witness on September 2. Once the defendant was arrested, prosecutors started working with the court and authorities to extradite him. But Brusic says Califomia law requires all extradition-type hearings to take place before apprehension of the material witness.
Brusic says the eyewitness was the key to the case
Brusic says because they couldn't "secure" the witness before trial and because without the witness they couldn't prove the charges during trial beyond a reasonable doubt the state dismissed, without prejudice the case against Mendoza. Brusic says the state could refile charges "if the necessary witness and evidence become available in the future."
He admits it's not the outcome he or authorities in Sunnyside wanted to see. " The Sunnyside Police Department is extremely frustrated, as is the Yakima County Prosecutor's Office, with this development. The city of Sunnyside, as well as Yakima County, must obtain justice in this terrible shooting. We will do everything in our power to prosecute this case in the future."
The gang related shooting happened during the busy crowded celebration
In the May 6 shooting bullets struck 5 people in the crowd. A court affidavit says a 35-year-old man was struck in the leg, a 12-year-old boy was hit in the lip and tongue, a 6-year-old girl was hit in the leg, and two boys, ages 16 and 14, were shot in the legs. All were treated at local hospitals and eventually released.