Hayward cop killer Mark Estrada sentenced to at least 50 years

Mark Estrada, the man who pleaded guilty to killing a Hayward police sergeant in 2015, was sentenced to 50 years to life on Thursday.

Sgt. Scott Lunger, a 48-year-old father of two daughters, was fatally shot by Estrada during a pre-dawn traffic stop.

Lunger saw a Chevrolet Silverado traveling erratically near Myrtle and Lion streets. Lunger stopped the truck and approached it after another officer had arrived on July 22, 2015.

Estrada, who was 21 at the time, fired three shots at Lunger as Lunger approached, hitting the officer in the head and leg, prosecutors said. He got out of the truck and ran as the backup officer fired at him. Estrada was arrested later in the day.

Estrada took a plea deal for first-degree murder in February before trial.

Before Judge C. Don Clay of Alameda County Superior Court pronounced sentence, he heard from relatives of the slain sergeant as well as Estrada.

Sara and Ashton Lunger described their immeasurable pain of not having their father there to walk them down the aisle and celebrate other milestones.

Paul Lunger said his son's killing has given the family a "life sentence of grief." He said Estraa will be "judged by a higher authority."

Dozens of Hayward police officers attended the hearing, including Chief Toney Chaplin.

"I think it's long overdue," Chaplin said. "We're past the half-decade mark on this thing, and I think today will mark the end of a long and painful journey."

Officer Justin Green, who was there when his partner was killed, spoke with emotion, saying, "My life has forever changed. The incident plays over and over in my head. I've woken up in a cold sweat. I feel a sense of failure. Why did this happen to Sgt. Lunger and not me?"

Prosecutor John Brouhard said the killing was a "vile attack on our community and our sense of safety."

But defense attorney Linda Fullerton suggested that Estrada overreacted and killed the sergeant out of fear because Lunger had allegedly told him, "I'm going to f - you up."

Raquel Estrada said her son is not a cold-blooded killer nor a hardened criminal.

"It's obvious this was self-defense," she said. "My son felt his life was in danger and he reacted. And that's how he reacted. He had the gun there.."

Cesar Cruz of Homies Empowerment also addressed the court. In an interview, he said, "This is a police officer that is causing mayhem and we're calling him a hero? I'm sorry for their loss, but every human being has to be brought to justice and so justice was not served today.."