Bouncer gets eight months in jail for punch that killed Palo Alto man at San Jose bar

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SAN JOSE — A former bouncer for a downtown San Jose nightclub was sentenced Thursday to eight months in county jail in connection with a confrontation last year where he punched a patron who later died.

Jose Bonilla Rodas, 29, of East Palo Alto, had long pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter in the March 28, 2015 death of 24-year-old Danny Esquivel of Palo Alto. Judge Arthur Bocanegra ordered the jail term and an ensuing three years of probation.

Rodas expressed remorse for his act during the court hearing, but to Esquivel’s family and friends, many of whom gave tearful testimonies known as impact statements, the sentence was too lenient.










Danny Esquivel, 24, of Palo Alto, died March 28, 2015 after he was punched during an argument outside a downtown San Jose nightclub. A bouncer has been


Danny Esquivel, 24, of Palo Alto, died March 28, 2015 after he was punched during an argument outside a downtown San Jose nightclub. A bouncer has been arrested in his death.
(
Robert Salonga
)

“He gets an eight-month sentence and I have a lifetime sentence without Danny,” said Blanca Martinez, Esquivel’s mother. “His family will still be able to hear from him, see him, and we don’t have that.”

Esquivel was at the Myth Taverna and Lounge at Post and South San Pedro streets in the early-morning hours of March 28 when he was escorted out for reportedly clashing with someone inside. Once outside, police and witnesses said an argument ensued that ended with Bonilla punching Esquivel, who fell to the ground and was knocked unconscious.

Friends who were with Esquivel put him into a car and eventually drove him to Stanford Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead later that morning. The coroner’s office determined Esquivel died from a skull fracture to the back of his head and “blunt-force craniocerebral injuries due to fall due to physical altercation.”

A lawsuit filed by Esquivel’s family against the Myth Taverna is still pending. In the filing, the family accuses ownership and management of failing to maintain a safe environment and hiring unlicensed security personnel. This newspaper confirmed that Bonilla did not have a state license known as a “guard card” that affirms a baseline clearance to perform security work.

Deputy District Attorney Michael Vidmar said Bonilla will likely serve four months of his total sentence. Sentencing guidelines in California allow convicts with no prior felony history to be eligible for what is known as half time.










Jose Bonilla Rodas, 28, of East Palo Alto, has been arrested on suspicion of involuntary manslaughter in the March 28, 2015 death of a Palo Alto man


Jose Bonilla Rodas, 28, of East Palo Alto, has been arrested on suspicion of involuntary manslaughter in the March 28, 2015 death of a Palo Alto man stemming from an argument outside a downtown San Jose nightclub where Rodas worked as a bouncer.
(
Robert Salonga
)

Vidmar said it was clear from the circumstances of the case that Bonilla had to be held responsible for Esquivel’s death.

“If it wasn’t for the aggressive act carried out by the defendant,” he said, “we would not have had the loss of life that we did.”

Contact Robert Salonga at 408-920-5002. Follow him at Twitter.com/robertsalonga.



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