SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — San Diego Police Detective Wade Irwin, Jonathan "JD" De Guzman's partner, took the stand this morning in the trial of the man accused of killing his partner in 2016.
Irwin was seriously wounded the night De Guzman was killed, taking a bullet to the throat himself that night. He has said in the past that De Guzman gave his own life to save him.
Irwin taking the stand begins what will surely be lengthy testimony into the events in the Shelltown neighborhood on the night of July 28, 2016. An investigator who combed the scene that night also took the stand, discussing the weapon that prosecutors say was found at the scene and used to shoot and kill Officer De Guzman and wound Irwin.
"I believed at that time that if the defendant saw that I was alive, that I would be executed," Irwin testified. "I didn't want to die. I knew that if I was going survive this, I was going to have to fight to stay alive."
Irwin was able to return fire at the accused shooting, 60-year-old Jesse Michael Gomez, striking him in the upper body.
Later in the morning, prosecutors played Irwin's body camera footage, showing the moments officers arrived to render aid.
"It was the best feeling in the world to know that my fellow officers and brothers were there to be with me and take care of me," he said through tears.
Irwin said he was able to give responding officers directions on where Gomez fled, despite blood in his throat. He said he spent 23 days in the hospital, leaving with partial paralysis of his vocal chord, as well as the right side of his diaphragm.
"It can be difficult to breathe, it can be difficult to talk, it can be difficult to eat at times," Irwin said.
Irwin also identified Gomez as the one who shot him, sitting in the court room.
One of Gomez's attorneys, Jessica Petry, said Gomez didn't know he was shooting at police officers when he was approached by the two men that night. They were in a marked vehicle, but Gomez's attorney says he was under the influence of methamphetamines and was in a "gang-infested" area of Shelltown when the officers approached from behind. His attorneys say Gomez shot the officers out of fear for his own life.
"Jesse Gomez fired that gun because he thought he was going to die," Petry said.
De Guzman was a 16-year veteran of the San Diego Police Department. He died at the hospital. Irwin was hospitalized for almost a month.
Prosecutors are seeing the death penalty for Gomez, if he's convicted of a special circumstance allegation of murder of a police officer.
Attorneys have said the trial could take two months.