Gainesville police officer Francisco Leyva’s goal every day is to make it home along with the rest of those on his shift.
On Nov. 17, he was pistol whipped and had a gun pointed at him near Athens Street and MLK Jr. Boulevard in the city.
“That day was the closest, I believe, I’ll ever be to not completing that goal. It impacted me psychologically. I think about it every day,” Leyva said.
Alondra Rodriguez, 21, was sentenced to 25 years in prison after a plea and sentencing hearing Thursday, Oct. 11. She pleaded guilty to three counts of aggravated assault on a peace officer and one count of possession of a firearm during the commission of a crime.
Rodriguez and her co-defendant Marcos Garcia-Tovar were accused of pointing the gun at officers Leyva and Stephen Boykin during an incident near the Athens Street Burger King. Garcia-Tovar, still has a case pending regarding the same incident.
Testifying first, Boykin told Superior Court Judge Andrew Fuller he has seen the aftermath following the death of a law enforcement officer in the line of duty.
“The biggest thing that has impacted me is how close officer Leyva and I were that night to having our families, friends and community be in those circumstances. Even when I’m not at work, that’s what sticks with me,” he said.
Rodriguez signed an apology letter that Fuller read aloud for the record.
“I had the gun because I was walking at night to meet my boyfriend,” Fuller read from the letter.
Rodriguez wrote she found the gun in her parent’s house and did not know if it would fire.
Officers were originally dispatched after a 911 caller told authorities a man was dragging a woman down the road. The two were arguing when Rodriguez said he got physically aggressive.
“When the police officer tried to arrest my boyfriend, I panicked. As they were fighting, my boyfriend was screaming, ‘My leg. You’re hurting my leg.’ I heard him screaming for me to help, so I did,” Rodriguez wrote in the letter.
In her apology, she said she never intended to shoot the officers.
Assistant District Attorney Anna Fowler told the judge later, however, that there was evidence to the contrary.
“This has deeply affected our officers, and I think it will continue to do so for the rest of their careers, and not only them but … their families,” Lt. Kevin Gaddis testified.
Rodriguez added she was not taking the medication she had been prescribed.
Leyva was able to force the gun away from Rodriguez before she ran. He was praised by both Fuller and Fowler for the restraint to not draw his service weapon.
“I had no intentions of arresting her. I was there to help her,” Leyva said.
Although Rodriguez said she never fired, both she and Garcia-Tovar were charged in the indictment with shooting at Boykin. Fowler said Boykin did return fire.
“These are valuable members of our society — to keep us safe and protect us — but they are also human beings,” Fowler said.