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.