Boy Testifies Against Cop In Road Rage Trial - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Boy Testifies Against Cop In Road Rage Trial

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A child took the stand Thursday to testify in the case of a road rage incident in which both he and his mother were shot by an off-duty San Diego police officer.

Frank White, 29, is charged with felony gross negligent discharge of a firearm and a misdemeanor count of displaying a firearm in an angry or threatening manner in connection with the March 15, 2008, run-in with Oceanside resident Rachel Silva and her son, Johnny.

White -- who is on administrative leave without pay from the San Diego Police Department -- faces up to nine years in prison if convicted.

In his opening statement, Deputy District Attorney Jeff Dusek said Silva was close to her home when she pulled out of the Old Grove Shopping Center off state Route 76, forcing White -- who was going to the grocery store with his wife -- to take evasive action.

As White turned into the shopping center just after 9 p.m., Silva pulled in behind him and followed him into the parking lot.

"All she had to do was turn left and go home," the prosecutor said. "But she didn't."

A witness will testify that Silva almost caused the accident on the street, then changed lanes to follow White's car, Dusek said.

"She (the witness) sees Rachel Silva starting to be a butthead," Dusek told the jury.

Silva started screeching her tires and tailgating White, "just being a jerk," the prosecutor said.

Dusek said Silva had alcohol, marijuana and methamphetamine in her system as she encountered White and his wife.

"That's how she was operating that night," the prosecutor said.

After driving into the parking lot, White for some reason stopped his car and Silva pulled up so close to him that he couldn't open his door, Dusek said.

Her son, Johnny Silva, saw White pull out a gun and point it at him, prompting his mother to call 911, the prosecutor said.

He said White did not show his badge or identify himself as a police officer before backing up.

As Silva backed up her car, it made slight contact with White's car and he opened fire, the prosecutor said.

"He blasts her right through his closed window ... through Johnny's closed window," Dusek told the jury.

After the first shot, it was "boom, boom, boom, boom," for a total of five shots from White's five-shot revolver, Dusek said.

Silva was shot twice in the arm and suffered a broken arm. Her son was wounded on the inside of the left knee.

White couldn't see in Silva's car and aimed for "center mass" when he fired, Dusek said.

"As soon as the contact (between cars) is made, the shots are fired," the prosecutor said.

Other people standing down-range were also exposed to gunfire, Dusek said.

After he fired his weapon, White got out of his car, identified himself and ordered Silva out of her car, but she couldn't obey because her arm was broken, the prosecutor said.

White's wife -- a Carlsbad 911 operator -- was overheard on an emergency call telling her husband "pull your badge, pull your badge," before he fired the shots, Dusek told the jury.

The prosecutor said the case would come down to what White saw, what he heard and why he acted the way he said.

Defense attorney Rick Pinckard told the jury in his opening statement that Silva initiated the entire incident.

The attorney said the Whites weren't under the influence and were just going to the grocery store when they encountered Silva.

"They weren't angry, they weren't looking for a confrontation," Pinckard said. "They weren't looking for any trouble at all."

The peace and tranquility of the couple's world collided with the rage and volatility of Silva's world, Pinckard said.

He said the Whites didn't know who was driving Silva's car or why the driver of that vehicle followed them into the shopping center.

"She (Silva) chose to chase the Whites into that parking lot," the defense attorney said.

A woman who witnessed the initial near-collision on the street will testify that the way Silva was driving was "scary," Pinckard told the jury.

White's wife said the incident was one of the most frightening experiences she's ever been through in her life, the attorney said.

Silva was driving in such a way in the parking lot that White thought, "What's coming next?" Pinckard said.

White had his wife call police before the shooting and was doing what officers do when dealing with dangerous people, Pinckard said.

The defendant's wife will testify about her husband trying to protect her, the attorney said.

When Silva pulled up next to his car, White pulled out his gun from a holster in his waistband and pointed it at the "threat," Pinckard said.

"As Silva's actions escalate, the danger felt by the Whites becomes more imminent," Pinckard said.

When he looked into Silva's car, White saw a woman's face "contorted in a rage," his attorney said.

The Whites were able to look into Silva's car three times, and the only person they saw was the driver, Pinckard said.

He said Silva had a prior 2003 road rage incident in which she pulled over, threw a soft drink in a car and punched a 17-year-old female driver in the face, believing the teenager cut her off in traffic, Pinckard said.

The 17-year-old didn't respond to Silva because she saw the woman had a child in the car, according to Pinckard.

At the time Silva collided with White, her blood-alcohol level was 2 1/2 times the legal limit, the defense attorney said.

Her blood-alcohol level was measured at .15 percent two hours after the shooting, Dusek said.

Silva pleaded guilty last year to felony child endangerment and misdemeanor driving under the influence. Her sentencing has been delayed until next month so authorities can see how well she responds to substance abuse treatment at a residential rehabilitation clinic.

She is not expected to testify during White's trial, which is expected to last at least two weeks in the courtroom of Vista Judge Harry Elias.

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