OCEANSIDE — Rapid acceleration, screeching tires and a minor collision during a pursuit through an Oceanside shopping center parking lot led an off-duty police officer to fire five shots at his assailant’s vehicle, the officer’s attorney said June 3.
During his opening statement in a Vista courtroom, attorney Rick Pinckard said his client, Franklin James White, opened fire on Rachel Silva’s vehicle believing he and his wife, Jacquellyn, were going to be rammed as Silva reversed her car toward his. Pinckard did say when White unloaded his .38-caliber revolver at Silva’s vehicle he had no idea the woman’s then 8-year-old son Johnny had been sitting reclined in the front seat.
Johnny Silva was shot once in his leg near his knee, while his mother was shot twice in her arm. The incident occurred around 9 p.m. March 15 at the Lowe’s store parking lot in the 100 block of Old Grove Road in Oceanside.
Pinckard said Rachel Silva was approximately 600 yards from her home when she started trailing the Whites because she perceived the defendant had cut her off.
White is charged with one felony count of gross negligent discharge of a firearm with two allegations for great bodily injury, and one misdemeanor count of exhibiting a firearm. He faces nine years in prison if convicted. He is currently on unpaid administrative leave.
Because of Rachel Silva’s erratic behavior, Pinckard said White, a patrolman with the San Diego Police Department, believed she was either out of her mind or under the influence.
It turned out to be the latter. In addition to driving on a suspended license and having methamphetamines in her system, Rachel Silva, who was 28 at the time, had a blood alcohol level of .15 two hours after the incident and possessed a small amount of marijuana and paraphernalia, Pinckard said. Police didn’t administer a field sobriety test on White.
Rachel Silva has pleaded guilty to a single felony count of child endangerment and a misdemeanor charge of driving under the influence. She faces up to four years in prison when she is sentenced this summer.
Deputy District Attorney Jeff Dusek acknowledged that Rachel Silva instigated the incident, but said White had fired the five shots from inside his vehicle through a closed window before identifying himself as an officer, or even putting the car in park for that matter.
He told jurors the 911 calls placed by Rachel Silva and Jacquellyn White, a Carlsbad police dispatcher, almost simultaneously during the incident would help prove his case.
Further, he said Rachel Silva could not turn off her car at White’s command, because her arm had been broken from the shooting. Dusek said the Whites were not injured in the incident. The damage to their vehicle was a few minor scrapes to the driver side rear wheel well and a broken side mirror.
Rachel Silva will not testify at the trial. She has cited her Fifth Amendment right to not incriminate herself from the witness stand.
White remains out of custody on his own recognizance.