OCEANSIDE — “Momma, he has gun!” a young boy testified he screamed just as an off-duty San Diego police officer opened fire on his mother’s car during a road rage incident in an Oceanside parking lot in March.
Johnny Silva, whose voice can be heard screaming on a 911 call phoned in by his mother, Rachel Silva, during the incident, testified his mother got upset after being cut off at a turn-off lane by Franklin “Frank” White near their house and then followed him and his wife to the Lowe’s store parking lot in the 100 block of Old Grove Road on the evening of March 15.
The young boy, who was 8-years-old at the time, testified he remembered his mother revving her car engine and following White closely, which scared him. The defendant’s vehicle had minor damage, scuffs and scratches to the right wheel well and a broken mirror that was determined to be caused by Rachel Silva.
Johnny Silva was struck once in his leg, while his mother was shot twice in her arm during the incident in which White fired five shots from inside his car into Rachel Silva’s vehicle. White, 28, is charged with one felony count of gross negligent discharge of a firearm with two enhancements for great bodily injury, and one misdemeanor count of exhibiting a firearm.
If convicted, White, who’s on unpaid administrative leave from the San Diego Police Department, faces up to nine years in prison. A Dec. 3 arraignment date has been scheduled, at which time a trial date may be set. White is currently free on his own recognizance, which means he didn’t have to post bail.
Despite arguments from White’s defense team that their client only fired because he feared for his safety and his wife’s life, San Diego Superior Court Judge Joel Pressman said he felt the officer’s actions were unreasonable.
White and his wife, Jacquellyn, a Carlsbad police dispatcher, were uninjured. Jacquellyn White also called 911 as the incident unfolded, and prosecutors played a recording at the hearing.
At a readiness conference Nov. 10, Rachel Silva pleaded guilty to a single felony count of child endangerment and a misdemeanor charge of driving under the influence. In lieu of her plea, several other misdemeanor charges were dismissed. She faces up to four years in prison when she is sentenced next spring.
Silva, 28, had been driving on a suspended license, had a blood alcohol level of .15 and possessed a small amount of marijuana and paraphernalia at the time of the incident. Despite the aforementioned infractions, the state Attorney General’s Office concluded that there was insufficient evidence surrounding the circumstances of Silva striking White’s car to file assault charges against Silva.
The state Attorney General’s Office took over Silva’s investigation from the San Diego District Attorney’s Office after the two agencies met with the Oceanside Police Department, which initially investigated the case.
This is the first time since 1995, when former San Diego Police Officer Christopher Chaney shot a fleeing suspect in the arm and was charged with assault with a deadly weapon, that an officer has been charged in connection with an officer involved shooting, said Steve Walker, a spokesman for the District Attorney’s Office, following the announcement of the charges against White in July.
A jury acquitted Chaney after only a few minutes of deliberations, Walker said.
Following the hearing, when prosecutor Julie Korsmeyer was asked about the difficulty of trying a police officer, she said simply, “It’s a challenge.”