Feb 2, 2016
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A Richmond police detective is being praised for watching hours of surveillance footage at a San Pablo casino, a decision that helped her find the killers who fatally shot a South San Francisco man.

The case stems from the fatal shooting of Rodel Sarmiento, 43, in the 1800 block of Chanslor Ave. on May 4, 2013, Richmond police Lt. Felix Tan said.

Homicide Det. Caston spoke with Sarmiento’s family and learned he loved gambling.

“Trusting her instinct, Det. Caston went to the casino in the City of San Pablo and watched hours of surveillance footage,” Tan said. “Her patience paid off. The detective saw Sarmiento walk out of the casino.”

The detective also saw two women leave and hop into their car. Sarmiento followed them out of the parking lot in his car. The detective was able to identify the women on the surveillance footage, and learned one of those women, 27-year-old Brittany Bernard, had asked her boyfriend, 35-year-old Kevin Vilaynguen, if he wanted to rob Sarmiento.

Sarmiento’s vehicle was fired upon multiple times on Chanslor, causing the victim to swerve off the road and into the side of a house.

“Witnesses’ statements also placed Vilaynguen’s and Bernard’s car near the crime scene (1800 block of Chanslor Ave.),”Tan said. “Bullet casings from the shooting were located and crime lab test results identified Vilaynguen’s DNA on the evidence.”

Last fall, Vilaynguen and Bernard were both found guilty of attempted robbery and murder. More recently, Vilaynguen was sentenced to 50 years to life in prison while Bernard was sentenced to 25 years to life in state prison. The other woman seen on surveillance footage was acquitted of all charges.

“We hope that the outcome of this case has brought some closure to Kevin Sarmiento’s family,” Tan said. “We are proud of our Homicide Unit and especially proud of Det. Caston’s hard work and tenacity to bring justice to the victim’s family.”


About the Author

Mike Aldax is the editor of the Richmond Standard. He has 13 years of journalism experience, most recently as a reporter for the San Francisco Examiner. He previously held roles as reporter and editor at Bay City News, Napa Valley Register, Garden Island Newspaper in Kaua’i, and the Queens Courier in New York City.