News

Bouncer receives eight months for punch that killed Palo Alto man

Jose Bonilla Rodas to serve his sentence for involuntary manslaughter in county jail

A bouncer who pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter in the death of a Palo Alto resident outside a San Jose bar received an eight-month jail sentence on Thursday.

Jose Bonilla Rodas, 29, of East Palo Alto, took responsibility for his actions leading to the death of 24-year-old Daniel Adam Esquivel, who died after being punched by the burly bouncer and struck his head on the pavement.

Esquivel was at the Myth Taverna & Lounge in San Jose on March 28, 2015, when he was escorted outside after an incident that began in the bar. He got into an argument with Rodas, who punched him. Esquivel fell to the ground and was knocked unconscious.

Friends took him away in their car and showed up with him hours later at Stanford Hospital, where he was later pronounced dead. The Santa Clara County Coroner determined that Esquivel died from blunt-force trauma to the back of his head due to the fall after a physical altercation.

Rodas was arrested without incident on June 5, 2015, in South San Francisco. He addressed the court on Thursday, taking responsibility for his actions, Deputy District Attorney Michael Vidmar said.

About eight members of Esquivel's family appeared in court to express their pain at the loss of their loved one. Many others wrote letters to the court about Esquivel and the type of person they knew and loved.

With time for good behavior, Rodas could be released after serving four months in county jail, Vidmar said.

Esquivel's death was "incredibly unfortunate," and the series of events that led to his death "should never have happened. The defendant's decision to punch the victim, to use force, was completely unnecessary and led to the loss of life," Vidmar said.

Esquivel's mother, Blanca Martinez, said on Friday that the family feels that justice was not served by Rodas' sentence.

"I carried Danny for nine months before giving life to him, but yet his life only meant eight months to our 'justice system'. Mr. Bonilla receives an eight months sentence while we 'serve' a lifetime sentence without Danny," she said in an email.

"Danny always would say that only God can judge us, that justice is his alone. He also would say that you had to train your faith in God like you would for a marathon because you never knew when that marathon would come. Grieving the loss of his life is that marathon for our family. We miss him so much," she added.

Bonilla's actions had an effect on her family and his own, but his family still has him here with them, she said.

"We don't have Danny," Martinez said. "Danny's father and myself don't wish the pain of losing a child on anyone. It's a constant struggle. We know Danny would want us to stay strong and to watch after his family, especially his grandparents and siblings. We appreciate that Mr, Vidmar stood with the initial charge and all his hard work on this case. Ultimately, though, he's not the one that imposes the sentence."

Martinez said the family continues to keep her son's memory and spirit alive through the scholarship fund they set up. Last week, she met the recipient of the 2016 Danny Esquivel Memorial Summer Camp Scholarship, which she set up at the East Palo Alto YMCA last summer.

"He loved working there. It's a blessing to sponsor a child as a way to honor Danny's life," she said.

Rodas is out of custody and must turn himself in to begin serving his sentence in October. Under California's sentencing guidelines for persons without a prior felony conviction, he could be released after serving half of his sentence, or four months in county jail, Vidmar said.

A civil lawsuit against the Myth Taverna & Lounge and Rodas is still pending in Santa Clara County Superior Court. The suit alleges negligence and hiring Rodas without proper training and a Proprietary Private Security Officer or Security Guard license, as is required by state law.

---

Follow the Palo Alto Weekly/Palo Alto Online on Twitter @PaloAltoWeekly and Facebook for breaking news, local events, photos, videos and more.

Comments

7 people like this
Posted by Marrol
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Aug 19, 2016 at 7:01 pm

Why did the victim's friends wait until "hours later" before taking him to the hospital? I can see how that delay may have been a contributing factor in his death. A tragedy all the way around, and sad that someone loses their life over a bar confrontation, but one has to believe that the victim must have acted in a manner that put himself in a confrontational position to begin with. Anything can happen at anytime I suppose, but in most cases of someone punching another person the anticipated result wouldn't be death. The article doesn't indicate, but I would imagine the sentence reflects a lack of that intent. I'm sure the court took all of this into consideration before rendering a sentence.


8 people like this
Posted by Community member
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 19, 2016 at 10:37 pm

I have seen or heard nothing from the coward "friends" while following this case. While the actions of this monster clearly had a devestating impact, one can't help but think of the neglegence by these fools by not acting with any sense. Have they spoken out or shown any remorse for their involvement? They and their families should be ashamed for raising immature, ignorant children. Just my two cents for whatever it's worth. May the young man rest in peace and all those involved be held accountable. Karma is real


2 people like this
Posted by Friend
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 20, 2016 at 7:51 am

I too wonder why they waited. From that day forward it is the hardest question to piece together in my mind.
Not one has spoken out. Not one "friend" from that night. I'm sure they were advised not too.

I can't imagine what they are living with because yes the impact of that fight may have been huge but that delay in care could have been everything we needed

At the end of the day we are not in control. These are the things given to yet another family in the outcomes of a night of senseless judgments and active choices all around.

Sending prayers to Danny's family


5 people like this
Posted by CrescentParkAnon.
a resident of Crescent Park
on Aug 20, 2016 at 12:58 pm

Uh, I am reading a bit of animus towards the victim and friends for not going to
the doctor or seeking medical care. That is really misguided.

Look at our culture today, specifically our media, and the violence portrayed in
in almost constantly. People are shot, punched, "knocked-out", launched through
the air by proximity to explosions ... all manner of injury, and they get up and walk
away. Scientists tell us that this constant nonsense pushed in front of our eyes
eventually filters through to create a kind of artificial reality that eventually swamps
the normal day to day things we see in our lives because the mental arousal
states is higher.

It is not wonder a lot of people are doing things that were violent and stupid these
days because that is what is modeled for them in one of our main social instituions,
the media.

So, though it is s sad shame, I think it is wrong to blame the victim or his friends
and there are a couple of things to consider about this. First, the use of "justified"
violence in a bar is just as problematic as the use of violence and deadly force
by police. Second, to really remove the problems associated with inequality and
people not seeking medical attention, a system such as Britain's NHS would be
needed.

There are times that if someone does not have access to rock solid health care
or the money to pay for it immediately that they will mentally fool themselves
into thinking they are OK or they should wait and see before they open themselves
up for financial catastrophe ... and there is no doubt in my mind that the cost
to society of this is much greater overall than the cost of a universal health care
program.


2 people like this
Posted by Meltdown
a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on Aug 20, 2016 at 10:28 pm

why aren't the friends being charged for taking so long to take him, better yet why didn't they visit a San Jose hospital.


3 people like this
Posted by Silver Shroud
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Aug 21, 2016 at 4:11 am

Web Link


2 people like this
Posted by Anon2
a resident of another community
on Feb 15, 2017 at 8:43 pm

CrescentParkAnon.

[and there is no doubt in my mind that the cost
to society of this is much greater overall than the cost of a universal health care
program.]

Here's the thing, Doctors are supposed to take lawful obligation toward helping a person with any life threatening injury (unless its terminal, and/or long term).

I assure you, if they would have taken him in right away and worried about the money later... I can see no reason why a doctor/surgeon would postpone saving someone's life. Let's be real here.


2 people like this
Posted by Danny's Mom
a resident of University South
on Feb 24, 2017 at 11:02 am

Anon2,

You are very correct, money played no factor in the care Danny received. First of all, Danny was fully insured. So much so that the hospital made sure to bill him for the $50 ER copay that was due after Health Net took care of their large portion of the bill.

I have reviewed the ER's medical records from that tragic night. The doctors and nurses who worked on him truly did everything they could for him, but it was too late. :(


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

Salt & Straw Palo Alto to open Nov. 23
By Elena Kadvany | 0 comments | 4,126 views

Lakes and Larders (part 2)
By Laura Stec | 0 comments | 1,418 views

Can we ever improve our schools?
By Diana Diamond | 8 comments | 1,189 views