During the early morning hours of October 18, 2007, SWAT teams from the cities of Colton and Rialto, along with agents from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, served four warrants simultaneously at different residences on West Cascade Drive in the city of Rialto looking for weapons and narcotics.
Officer Sergio Carrera was a member of a six-man SWAT team serving a warrant at one of these locations. The house his team entered contained a woman, her two sons, ages 3 and 5, and her boyfriend. As the team entered, they ordered everyone to the ground. Initially, the boyfriend complied, but then he got up and ran toward a back bedroom. A member of the team gave chase and tackled the man in a back bedroom and a fierce struggle ensued over the AR-15 slung across his chest. A second officer arrived and Tased the suspect. At this point first one shot, then two more were fired from the AR-15. One of these rounds struck Officer Carrera in the chest as he stood guard over the woman and her children.
Officer Carrera was airlifted to the Arrowhead Regional Medical Center in Colton. He died in surgery.
Though no narcotics or weapons were found in the location, the suspect who ran turned out to be a fugitive from Mississippi who skipped bail on a drug charge. The San Bernardino District Attorney’s Office charged him with first degree murder with special circumstances. After listening to the evidence, the jury found him guilty only of involuntary manslaughter, but deadlocked on whether a special gun enhancement should be added. A second trial and jury resolved this issue. The gun enhancement was added and he received a sentence of 14 years in prison.
Officer Carrera, 29, was a four-year veteran of the Rialto Police Department. He was survived by his wife, Louise, and his two-year-old, Sergio and year-old daughter, Izabella.
Sources: Los Angeles Times, Whittier Daily News, San Bernardino Sun, Rialto Police Department