Man sentenced for shooting police sergeant in head, killing him in 2015
Man sentenced for shooting police sergeant in head, killing him in 2015

Sgt. Scott Lunger

Nate Gartrell, Bay Area News Group

OAKLAND — In a Thursday court hearing packed with friends and family of both men, Oakland resident Mark Estrada was formally sentenced to 50 years to life in state prison for murdering Hayward police Sgt. Scott Lunger in 2015.

Estrada, 27, pleaded no contest to first degree murder with the use of a firearm earlier this year, in a plea deal with Alameda County prosecutors. In the process, he avoided a possible sentence of life without the possibility of parole. The sentencing hearing Thursday was a formality to finalized the deal, but it also gave loved ones of Lunger and Estrada a chance to speak publicly for the first time since the case reached its end.

Lunger’s girlfriend and daughters told Judge Don C. Clay how much they missed their father during key life events, like college graduations, and how he won’t be with them in the future.

“My world was shattered,” his oldest daughter said. Lunger was her coach, mentor, fishing buddy, and “best friend,” she said.

Detective Justin Green, Lunger’s partner the night he was killed, described Lunger as a leader in the department and a role model for younger officers.

“Scott Lunger meant something to me,” he told courtroom members.

Estrada’s mother told the court she didn’t think her son was a cold-blooded killer and insisted Lunger was trying to intimidate her son.

Estrada shot Lunger in the head and thigh as Lunger approached the Chevrolet Silverado he had stopped near Myrtle and Lion streets for swerving on the road at 3:15 a.m. July 22, 2015. Later that morning, Estrada showed up at a friends house in East Oakland frantic, bleeding from a wound to his back, and said he’d been shot by a policeman, according to testimony at his preliminary hearing. He reeked out alcohol and refused to go to the hospital, the friend testified.

The motive for Lunger’s murder was baffling; Estrada had no criminal record and was being pulled over for a potential DUI. Having a gun in his car with no prior convictions is typically prosecuted as a misdemeanor in California, and carries a maximum one-year jail term.

Lunger was a Brentwood resident and high school coach, whose death was mourned by thousands in a 2015 funeral procession that sprawled throughout the East Bay. Hayward police Chief Toney Chaplin called him “one of the most hardworking and dedicated public servants this department has ever known.”

Estrada accepted the plea deal in early February, just as his murder trial was about to begin.

Before handing down the sentence, Clay encouraged Estrada to do what he could with the years he has left. Estrada may get a chance for parole, decades down the line.

“I hope and pray that you learn from this, and that you become a better person,” Clay said.

Bay City News contributed reporting.

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