Cop loses eye in fight with belligerent suspect, forced to retire. Judge gives her 90 days in jail.

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Arizona – On February 3rd at the Pima County Superior Court in Tucson, Arizona, Judge Teresa Godoy handed down a sentence for the woman who violently kicked out the eye of former Sgt. Mark Bustamante of the Pima County Sheriff’s Office.

90 days in jail. That’s it.

According to the victim impact statement that was read by Tim Senne, one of the deputies present and assaulted by the defendant, this kind of lenient sentence “sends a blatant message to police that they’re not protected”.

We couldn’t agree more.

Officer loses eye, forced to retire after woman kicks him in face with heel. DA offers her probation.
Officer loses eye, forced to retire after woman kicks him in face with heel. DA offers her probation.

 

Therese, the wife of Tim Senne, had reached out to me personally last year to describe the plea deal that was being offered to Yesennia Gonzalez. Pima County DA Barbara LaWall, after a myriad of changes in the prosecution against Gonzalez, apparently decided that Gonzalez should be offered a plea bargain of either three years’ probation or two-and-a-half years of prison.

The rationale behind this was that two “experts” had deemed Gonzalez to be criminally “insane” when she decided to change Mark Bustamante’s life forever.

During the sentencing, Bustamante had detailed the manner in which his life has changed. He described that he often wakes at night confused, trying to ascertain his whereabouts due to his solitary eye.

Bustamante mentioned that while driving, if something were to get into his eye, he’s immediately compelled to pull over – sharing details of how his injury affected so many parts of his everyday life.

What was most impactful during Bustamante’s statement was that he not only felt like a victim from Gonzalez’s actions – but he felt further victimized by the DA’s office. That’s because the man who dedicated his life and career to law enforcement was lied to time and again by those who were meant to work alongside police – not against them.

Despite numerous times that the DA’s office insisted that they would go to trial, they diverted to offer a plea to Gonzalez because they didn’t want to combat an insanity defense in court. From how Bustamante described it, this simply left too many questions unanswered with regard to the “PTSD” diagnosis that the defendant was afforded.

This move by the court essentially allowed Gonzalez to kick out a law enforcement officer’s eye without officially facing the charge in court while also not enduring a sentence resembling that gravity of the offense thereafter.

 

Tim Senne afforded those present in the courtroom a grim retelling of the events of December 10th, 2016. He spared no detail so that the judge, and all present, could understand who the real Yesennia Gonzalez was.

“At 2356 hours, the Defendant was arrested for DUI.  Once handcuffs were placed on the Defendant, she immediately became belligerent and began to physically resist the arrest.  At 0000 hours, the Defendant assaulted Sgt. Mark Bustamante, kicking him in the eye with her 5-inch heel and causing severe injury and total loss of his left eye.”

Senne detailed how he arrived to find Bustamante in a state of severe pain, noting how the Sergeant was holding a gauze to his injured eye while his face and uniform were covered in blood. He stated that he did his best to comfort Bustamante, where thereafter paramedics arrived to transport the injured sergeant to the hospital. At this point of the fateful night, Senne was taking over the arrest of Gonzalez, and left little to the imagination about the woman’s character.

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Inside of the courtroom, Gonzalez was adorning footwear akin to that she used to deprive Bustamante of his eye in 2016. Deputy Senne continued detailing the night in question, explaining how the remaining deputies had to extract the weapon of choice by Gonzalez that evening.

“Due to the fact that the defendant was still wearing her high heels and exhibiting aggressive behavior, she had to be physically restrained and have her shoes removed so they could be placed into evidence.”

Therese Senne, and myself included, were appalled at the site of Gonzalez nonchalantly wearing high-heels inside the courtroom. While it might have been coincidental that the defendant decided to wear them during sentencing, it’s hard to not acknowledge if it was brazening in nature instead.

Then, Senne stated the conduct of Gonzalez while she was in his custody:

“I transported [Gonzalez] to the Pima County Adult Detention Center. During this time, the defendant continued to be verbally aggressive with statements such as ‘Fuck you, fuck the police, you fucking cunt, I hope you fucking die, I hope all fucking cops die”.  At one point even stating “you don’t have shit on me’”.

It was also noted during the impact statement that Gonzalez continued to refer to Deputy Senne as a “cunt” approximately 30 more times that evening. One of the strongest sentiments expressed in the courtroom was when Senne stated:

“Your Honor, this is the true Yesennia Gonzalez.  At no time has she shown remorse, any emotion or regret, or apologized for any of her actions on this evening.”

After the victim impact statements were delivered and the lawyer jargon expressed to the judge, it was time for Gonzalez to address the court. Her statement of remorse was about as generic as a store’s off-brand cereal – and just as palatable as well to be honest. Gonzalez’s statement to the court contained the typical tropes of her thinking about her actions impacting her life every day, how she’s a single mother, and that she hasn’t done anything bad since. Yet, normal and decent behavior isn’t a merit, that’s how people should conduct themselves day to day.

It was now in the judge’s hand to dole out a sentence.  Judge Godoy then handed down a mere 90 days in jail for Gonzalez, accompanied by five years of probation. While the probation period extended the suggested parameters of the plea bargain drafted, she was given just three months of jail time for kicking out the eye of Bustamante. While this was a gross robbery of justice for the victims in this case, Gonzalez was hardly prepared to be cuffed by a deputy since, by her expression, she thought she was getting off on probation only.

While Gonzalez didn’t shed a tear when placed in cuffs, she did appear visibly confused. Even though the defendant was able to maintain some semblance of composure, her boyfriend inside the courtroom began to bawl when she was seated in the waiting area where deputies later escort those destined to the Pima County Jail. His weeping demeanor was a far cry from the menacing looks he was shooting toward the side of the court hosting the victims and myself 30 minutes earlier.  

 

The elephant in the room, from my perspective, was why did the judge only hand down 90 days in jail. After I learned more about Judge Godoy’s track record, it all made more sense. There was a case that made the press in 2018, regarding the judge handing down a 14 year sentence against a child abuser. However, what the press failed to mention was that in 2017, Judge Godoy actually acquitted the person she sentenced to prison in 2018.  

When she was overseeing the case of Rhiannon Dee Whitney, who was charged with abuse likely to cause death or serious physical injury to an infant, the judge declared a mistrial over a technicality. Then, Judge Godoy overstepped her boundaries within the court and actually acquitted Whitney after declaring the mistrial. This forced the state of Arizona to overturn the judge’s acquittal and stage another trial.

Cop loses eye in fight with belligerent suspect, forced to retire. Judge gives her 90 days in jail.

Gonzalez was booked into the jail shortly after the proceedings in court on February 3rd. While she was sentenced to 90 days in jail, the judge afforded her 18 days credit from her brief incarceration period from 2016, but added nine days as well. In total, Yesennia Gonzalez will spend 81 days in jail for taking out the eye of Mark Bustamante. No matter how you view this sentence, justice simply was not served.

On a heartwarming note – Mark Bustamante and Tim Senne were not only pleased with Law Enforcement Today bringing national awareness to their plight – but also with this author for coming to stand beside them during this difficult sentencing. While Tim Senne addressed the court and extended thanks to those who helped along the way, he specifically thanked me by name and also Law Enforcement Today. Well, we’d like to thank him, Mark Bustamante, and every law enforcement officer that commits to the often thankless job of keeping us safe. 

 


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