A North County jury on Tuesday convicted a suspected gang member of intentionally ramming his car into an Oceanside police officer during an unrelated traffic stop in June.
The panel deliberated for less than a half-day before finding Roberto Ignacio Flores guilty of all counts and allegations, including premeditated attempted first-degree murder of a peace officer, Deputy District Attorney Keith Watanabe said.
Authorities said the 26-year-old San Marcos man was driving a Dodge Neon when he spotted motorcycle Officer Brad Hunter making a traffic stop near the intersection of Oceanside Boulevard and Foussat Road.
Watanabe said the defendant deliberately rammed the Neon into Hunter, who smashed into the hood and flew up and over the car.
Shortly after the crash, police found the car abandoned, and found Flores at a Sprinter station less than a mile from the crash site.
The jury also heard a 45-minute jailhouse conversation the night of the crash between Flores, an undercover officer and an informant. In the recording, Flores said he targeted Hunter because he was a law enforcement officer.
Hunter was placed in a medically induced coma after the crash. He spent 12 days hospitalized, and has had at least two surgeries, including skin grafts from his right thigh. During the trial, the veteran police officer used a cane as he walked to the witness stand.
Flores is not done at the Vista courthouse. He now faces trial — and an additional 10 years — on accusations that he was a convicted felon in possession of an assault rifle. He was out on bail awaiting that trial when the crash happened.
“This was a great verdict,” Watanabe said. “This defendant was violent and dangerous, and he had a little bit of freedom and meth in his system.”