Bouncer arrested for death of Palo Alto man outside bar


A 28-year-old bouncer at a San Jose bar was arrested on Friday for the death of a Palo Alto man he allegedly punched after an argument, according to the Santa Clara County District Attorney's office.

Jose Bonilla Rodas, of East Palo Alto, will be charged with involuntary manslaughter for the death of Daniel Adam Esquivel, 24, according to San Jose police. Rodas was arrested without incident in South San Francisco at 5:45 p.m. on June 5.

Esquivel was inside the Myth Taverna & Lounge on March 28 and went outside where he got into an argument with Rodas, who worked there as a bouncer, according to police. Rodas allegedly punched Esquivel, who fell to the ground and was knocked unconscious.

Friends loaded Esquivel into a car and took off. Esquivel remained unconscious and his friends drove him to Stanford Hospital a few hours later. He was pronounced dead at Stanford, and Palo Alto police were notified by medical staff at 4:50 a.m., according to police. San Jose police took over the case after it was determined that Esquivel was injured in the city.

The Santa Clara County Coroner determined that Esquivel died from blunt-force trauma stemming from the incident. Details of the circumstances that led to the injuries have not been released by police or the DA. Representatives at the bar could not be reached for comment regarding the arrest.

Esquivel's mother, Blanca Reyes, has waited two months for the arrest, even holding back publishing an obituary at investigators' request while they worked on the investigation. She said it has been especially difficult and painful to continually relive the death of her son each time people would ask about him because she could not make the announcement.

"I just want justice for my son," she told the Weekly before the arrest.

San Jose police and the DA's office conducted an investigation that led to an arrest warrant filed two weeks ago for Rodas, head of the DA's homicide division, James Gibbons-Shapiro, said on Saturday. The DA's office reviewed all of the facts of the case before making a decision to prosecute Rodas, Gibbons-Shapiro said.

"Sometimes we are able to make a quick decision, other times we need to get more information. This was one of those cases where we needed more time," he said.

Rodas was booked into Santa Clara County Jail in San Jose. If convicted, he faces three years in prison, Gibbons-Shapiro said.

Reyes said she was particularly close to her son, who helped her with her two younger children and was a very spiritual person. He wrote poetry and music every day and wanted to be a youth minister, she said.

Esquivel graduated from Palo Alto High School and had worked at the East Palo Alto YMCA with youth, she said. He loved baseball and music and had a deep religious faith.

Esquivel had some troubles in the recent past related to alcohol that led to arrests in 2014. He was arrested on June 16 in Palo Alto after he angrily confronted a group of teens and took $40 from them after they struck him in the head with exploding party poppers they had thrown off a parking garage roof as he rode his bicycle past. He admitted to police that he had been drinking, according to a Palo Alto police report.

Esquivel pleaded no contest to that incident. As part of his probation, he was forbidden from using alcohol or from frequenting bars or places where alcohol is sold.

While on probation, he was arrested on Oct. 31, 2014, for allegedly stealing a purse off the counter of the bar at Molly Magee's in Mountain View and for brawling with security officers at the bar and resisting arrest. A police report noted that he was highly intoxicated at the time.

On Nov. 19, 2014, Esquivel was re-sentenced for the offenses committed in Palo Alto to a misdemeanor under Proposition 47, which reduces sentences for offenders who have not committed serious violent crimes. Probation was dropped as part of the re-sentencing, according to court records.

On Nov. 21, 2014, he pleaded no contest to three misdemeanor counts in the Molly Magee's case and received two-years probation. For probation, he was to refrain from going near Molly Magee's and paid restitution. The court did not impose any alcohol restrictions as part of this sentence, according to court documents.

But despite his troubles, his mother and his friends said he was a good soul who always had a smile. He was the type of person who would help others when they were in trouble, they said.

"Danny wasn't ashamed of his past. He truly believed no one could judge him but God, and because of what he went through he could help others. He would always tell me, 'They won't listen unless you live it. You must've lived it to preach it'. In other words, if he didn't know first hand what he was trying to make others understand, they wouldn't take his advice seriously," she said.

Reyes said that whatever circumstances occurred outside the bar, "he did not deserve to die."

"Tomorrow (June 9) is Danny's birthday, which brings me additional heartache. But reading his lyrics and poems remind me I need to stay strong. In one he wrote, 'Mama I love you! Stay strong! Live your life the way you would want me to ... happy.'

"I am going to try. But it will never be true happiness without him," she said.

Esquivel is survived by his mother, father, stepfather, four brothers and four sisters, his grandparents, great grandmother and many aunts, uncles and cousins.

Correction: The article has been corrected to reflect the fact that the District Attorney decided to prosecute Rodas, not Esquivel, after a lengthy investigation.

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8 people like this
Posted by RIP DANNY
a resident of another community
on Jun 6, 2015 at 8:23 pm

I believe there are some incorrect facts Danny was no longer on probation after his Prop 47 motion was granted in November. His probation was removed.
He's missed very much. He was a wonderful person who had started to really make stride towards a brighter future. He was amazing with kids always leading a game of baseball with the neighborhood kids. They all miss his presence. RIP DANNY

4 people like this
Posted by Escondido Mom
a resident of College Terrace
on Jun 6, 2015 at 8:33 pm

[Post removed due to same poster using multiple names]

21 people like this
Posted by Bird
a resident of Mountain View
on Jun 6, 2015 at 9:06 pm

This is so dumb. Whoever wrote this articles main focus was on Danny and only had 2 things to say about the bouncer. The main article should be focused on who that bastard was not the victim. Get it right.

7 people like this
Posted by Grade School Friend
a resident of Addison School
on Jun 6, 2015 at 9:15 pm

[Post removed due to same poster using multiple names]

12 people like this
Posted by Chele
a resident of University South
on Jun 6, 2015 at 9:50 pm

I've known this family for over 35 years. Danny was a shinning star... Loved by all the kids.... He would be downtown where he would help the homeless. This Danny that your article refers to doesn't sound like the Danny I knew. Maybe a little more research on your part would of helped you to focus more on the positive of his life then the negative. He was a beautiful writer. He wrote lyrics that were so soulful. Yes Danny to me was a kindred spirit. He will always remain this way in my heart... Miss and love you Danny....

4 people like this
Posted by AJ Jackson
a resident of Menlo Park
on Jun 6, 2015 at 10:56 pm

[Post removed due to same poster using multiple names]

23 people like this
Posted by Who Was Arrested?
a resident of Escondido School
on Jun 6, 2015 at 11:06 pm

I didn't know Danny, but I also noted the focus on his past rather than his current (just before being killed), the focus on his mistakes, with no detail on his positive contributions. This article reads like Danny is on trial, rather than Rodas.

In fact, there is even an error in the article, where the writer refers to (the victim) Esquivel being prosecuted, instead of the alleged perpetrator, Rodas.

>> "The DA's office carefully reviewed all of the facts of the case before making a decision to prosecute Esquivel..."

Are PA Weekly reporters too busy to proof read, or bother to be accurate in their reporting? That's been my experience with stories where I had close ties to the facts.

15 people like this
Posted by Give us more of the story
a resident of another community
on Jun 7, 2015 at 12:03 am

Would Danny have lived if his "friends" had taken him to the hospital right away? Why was he punched? Was he drunk when killed? Who is the defendant? The article only provides his name. Does he have a criminal record?

1 person likes this
Posted by So Called Friends
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Jun 7, 2015 at 12:26 am

[Post removed due to same poster using multiple names]

1 person likes this
Posted by PA Friend
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Jun 7, 2015 at 5:46 am

[Post removed due to same poster using multiple names]

1 person likes this
Posted by Ms. Morales
a resident of another community
on Jun 7, 2015 at 6:24 am

[Post removed due to same poster using multiple names]

5 people like this
Posted by over the top
a resident of South of Midtown
on Jun 7, 2015 at 8:18 am

I worked as a bouncer and we were told to never resort to hurting anyone for we put ourselves & our employer at major risk of liability for any injuries occurred.

Some bouncers will push folks around in an attempt to "ruffle them up". It doesn't sound as if Mr. Esquivel took any actions that involved a physical fight but possibly words were exchanged. Did he hurt the bouncer's feelings? Mr. Rodas looks like a tough guy who could've handled a few harsh words. Definitely uncalled for.

5 people like this
Posted by Alphonso
a resident of Los Altos Hills
on Jun 7, 2015 at 2:20 pm

Alphonso is a registered user.

If I was on the jury I would be very interested in how the damage was done - from the fist or the ground - it is very sad but some people are just unlucky in the way they fall. Obviously, "Danny" had a drinking and anger management problem - I wonder what Rodas's record looks like I imagine many people will say Rodas was a very sweet person

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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