VISTA (CNS) - A man who was twice convicted of intentionally striking an Oceanside motorcycle officer with a car was sentenced Tuesday to 28 years to life in state prison.
Roberto Ignacio Flores, 30, was found guilty by a Vista jury last month for driving a Dodge Neon into Oceanside Police Officer Brad Hunter on June 19, 2017. It was the second time in recent years that Flores was convicted of trying to kill the officer. The crash left the 29-year veteran of the department hospitalized with life-threatening injuries.
The officer was struck after pulling over a driver for an expired registration near Oceanside Boulevard and Foussat Road.
Flores, who was not involved in the traffic stop, accelerated and veered directly into Hunter, who was flung up and flipped over the defendant's car, according to prosecutors. Hunter suffered head injuries and his leg was broken in three places. The officer had to be placed in a coma until swelling on the brain subsided.
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Flores sped away, but was captured a few minutes later, according to prosecutors, who alleged that after his arrest, Flores bragged to a sheriff's deputy posing as an inmate, as well as a confidential informant, that he struck Hunter with the car.
Hunter and his wife, Vanessa, spoke at Flores' sentencing hearing, during which Brad Hunter said that though he's made significant progress since the incident, "I still work every day to overcome the physical and mental wounds that Mr. Flores inflicted."
Hunter, who said he only survived "by the grace of God and a very good helmet," recounted how "heartbreaking" it was to know the pain his wife was enduring through the incident and his recovery.
"It infuriates me knowing that Mr. Flores did this to her," said Hunter, who called the incident "an attack on every police officer" and their families.
Vanessa Hunter said she initially thought Flores was "just a dumb kid who made a stupid, but life-changing decision." But in the years and two trials since, she said, "I've come to learn that you don't have a conscience. I think you're pure evil."
Flores was previously found guilty in 2017 of Hunter's attempted killing, but his conviction was overturned by an appellate court panel that ruled his attorney ignored the defendant's argument that he was innocent of the crime.
He was convicted in the second trial of attempted murder and assault, as well as a separate assault weapon possession charge. He was out on bail for the firearms case when he struck Hunter, according to prosecutors.