Inland Empire Weekly
Black and Blue
By Tommy A. Purvis
Local woman is abused, beaten, shot and illegally detained . . . and the boys in blue don’t care
Penny Trent’s desperate call for help as a long suffering victim of domestic violence was allegedly answered with police misconduct run rampant.
The innocent and unarmed 52-year-old battered woman—who was the subject of a “welfare check” by the San Bernardino County Sheriff Department (SBCSD) in Apple Valley on June 3 of last year—was shot, unlawfully arrested and exposed to mild forms of torture during a cruel interrogation. A civil complaint filed on behalf of Trent in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California further alleges the agency illegally secured a search warrant for a civil liabilities investigation of her residence during an unlawful nine hour detention.
Her nightmare came to an end being put back in the same dangerous household with an increasingly volatile man. Her husband Wayne Trent, Sr.—who had already been placed under arrest and secured in the back of a squad car before Penny was shot—was later released from SBCSD custody at Victor Valley Community Hospital. The San Bernardino County District Attorney (DA) did not charge him for bruises found on his wife.
Protect and Serve?
“The Penny Trent case is the culmination of everything law enforcement does wrong wrapped up in one package,” Jerry Steering, the Newport beach based counsel for Trent who specializes in police misconduct, told the Weekly. “This case is the textbook example of the tug-of-war taking place between victims of police misconduct that have legal rights under the Constitution, and the organized effort of police agencies to shield themselves from criminal and civil liability, as well public ridicule.”
On three separate occasions—from late in the Sunday afternoon of June 3 last year into the early hours of the next morning—the SBCSD violated Trent’s Fourth Amendment rights, Steering told the Weekly. Deputy Carolyn Chadwell fired her 9mm service revolver at the domestic violence victim twice for no sound reason, at close range. Then the department illegally arrested her for being in the line of unjustified fire. The final violation came through the illegal search of her residence to defend the deputy and agency from future criminal or civil liability.
The civil complaint further seeks two more federal claims; one for the failure of the SBCSD to properly “hire,” “fire” and “discipline” deputies, and another claim for not training them “to handle the usual and recurring situations which with they must deal with as sworn peace officers.” Additional California state law violations include the “intentional infliction of emotional distress” and “abuse of process.”
Steering is seeking $15 million from San Bernardino County for the far reaching unconstitutional treatment of Trent. A request made to the San Bernardino County Department of Risk Management found that civil litigation settlements from the SBCSD misconduct has resulted in nearly $10 being paid out to 169 victims since ‘10.
The officer involved shooting (OIS) investigation of the Penny Trent shooting was the subject of an interoffice memorandum to San Bernardino County Assistant DA Gary Roth from Chief Deputy DA Mary Ashley on February 13. The analysis and conclusion of the “non-lethal officer-involved shooting” found in the last paragraph of the eight page document that was not made available to the Weekly until mid-July reports that Chadwell “fired shots to protect herself from what she perceived to be an immediate danger.”
Based on the “totality of the circumstances” the DA was left to conclude “there is insufficient evidence to prove her actions were an unreasonable use of force in self-defense.”
An examination of DA press releases by the Weekly found that there have been at least 28 OIS investigations for 15 fatal and 13 non-fatal since June of ‘11. In each conclusion it was found the law enforcement officer was acting in self defense.
The Statement of Facts in the Penny Trent OIS investigation is based solely on the SBCSD’s Homicide Unit probe of the shooting. The unit—which is staffed entirely of detectives—is bound to investigate all deputy involved shootings countywide. Homicide Detective William Doemner arrived on scene at 14286 Kiowa Road 8:05 PM.
SBCSD Detective Robert Thacker made the request for a search warrant of the tan duplex with brown trim just inside of three hours of the welfare check being answered by Chadwell. Three more Homicide Unit detectives—Angelo Gibilterra, Mauricio Hurtado, and Randy German—are named in the civil complaint for their roles in the OIS investigation.
The warrant—signed by San Bernardino County Superior Court Judge Stanford Reichert at 8:27PM—is based on Thacker’s claim that Penny Trent was under investigation for the commission of a felony, and that evidence to prove the crime might be compromised. Crime Scene Specialist Kim Shapiro even conducted a gun powder residue test on Trent’s hands and arms at the Apple Valley substation. There was never even suspicion of her firing a gun.
Detectives confiscate her jeans with a bullet hole in the left ankle.
Steering told the Weekly that Penny was placed into a cold interrogation room that he refers to as “the cooler” during most the search of her residence. SBCSD Homicide Unit Detectives—Randy German and William Doemner—coerced Penny to pose for several photos in nothing but her underwear in the presence of male deputies. Photos of bruises left by her abusive husband were taken. Wayne was put in a holding cell adjacent to her when she was first brought to the station.
A footnote in the DA report claims that Wayne told Penny “to keep her mouth shut” or “mum’s the word okay Penny, mum’s the word.”
A 20-minute audio clip of the Trent welfare check captured on a mini-recorder worn by Chadwell was leaked to the Weekly by Steering. Initially, the run of the mill domestic violence call acts out like much of the drama often observed on late night reruns of the reality television show Cops. Chadwell is first heard informing Deputy Kirsten Mitchell that the neighbor has not heard any noises coming from the other side of the duplex.
Chadwell knocks on the front door of the Trent residence on Kiowa Rd., jiggles a locked door knob, and requests a call history for the address from dispatch. The chorus of the song “Alive” by Pearl Jam is heard playing on a radio in the garage as the deputies make their way to the side of the location to find an unsecured door used to enter the residence. Penny, and her husband Wayne, are quickly found in the bathroom partially clothed with water running for the shower.
Penny had been told to get her hair wet. The couple is separated in an unsuccessful effort to get Penny to admit to abuse from Wayne. A bruise discovered on her right arm is eventually the probable cause used for the arrest.
“Penny . . . where’s your other arm?” Chadwell is heard saying to the domestic violence victim as shots rang out literally within a second of asking the question, the civil complaint alleges, and the audio clip leaked to the Weekly by Steering confirms.
The OIS report found that of the bullets struck the floor in front of the loveseat that Penny was sitting on. The other bullet grazed Trent in the leg and traveled through the loveseat, the living room wall, and the oven before falling on kitchen floor.
“All I was doing was sitting there. I didn’t do anything. I was just sitting there on the couch.” Penny is heard saying to Chadwell is ordered out of her front room at gunpoint, pushed to the ground, cuffed and placed in the back of a patrol car.
Chadwell is heard mumbling the words “f^*king bitch” under her breath.
She points out scissors on the table to justify her actions to Sergeant Jason Cunningham who responds to the scene within minutes of the “shots fired” call that went out over the radio.
“As long as you’re okay, is all that matters,” Cunningham is heard saying to Chadwell, “It is what it is.”
Chadwell later told the Homicide Unit that Trent had the look of “5150 or crazy people” in her eyes before the shooting. Her hand was covered by a bedroom pillow below the wrist. Chadwell told detectives it looked as “if she was gripping a tool or a weapon.”
Steering told the Weekly Trent had a frozen bag of French fries on her wrist to help with pain she was suffering from due to her abusive husband.
Two to Four
The most recent Domestic Violence Update—a training manual for the SBCSD that was released to the Weekly under the California Public Records Act—is a sobering curriculum for those who pay careful attention.
Smiling photos of eight women and children “murdered by cops while the cops were committing acts of domestic violence” is shown as the second slide in the 63-slide PowerPoint presentation. A few slides later with yellow crime scene tape warns that “studies have found that at least 40 percent of police officer families experience domestic violence.” And that “domestic violence is two to four times more common in police families than the general population.”
Another slide titled Office Safety Upon Entry informs deputies to “separate involved parties” and to “prevent eye contact and conversation between suspect and victim” and to “take control of weapons (if any).”
The presentation also reports that the SBCSD received 2,930 calls for domestic violence in 2011 that led to 2,908 reports being taken.
A caller that identified herself as the girlfriend of Trent’s son made the call for Penny at 5:08PM. Penny had called her son in the Northwest earlier in the afternoon as she hid in the bathroom to tell him that dad was beating her again.
The DA OIS report notes the Marsy’s card—a pocket size handout on rights and services for victims of domestic violence required under to be left under California’s Marsy’s Law—was discarded by Chadwell when she drew her service revolver. It was found on the patio near a fired cartridge on top of gravel.
The Marsy’s card for Penny would have came with the warning “Despite official restraint of the person alleged to have committed domestic violence, the restrained person may be released at any time.” And the number for seven shelters for temporary housing that offer 24 hour service. Two of which—A Better Way and High Desert Domestic Violence—were in her immediate area.
Penny is currently living outside of San Bernardino County due to safety concerns.
For the online version of the article see http://ieweekly.com/2013/07/feature-stories/black-and-blue/
See Steeringlaw’s Police Misconduct Blog, above.
RULING BY NINTH CIRCUIT COURT OF APPEALS HOLDING THAT ITS NOT A CRIME TO STRIKE AN OPOSSUM WITH A SHOVEL IN CALIFORNIA, RESULTS IN $400,000.00 FALSE ARREST AWARD TO ANAHEIM FATHER AND SON
December 6, 2012
A ruling by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals holding that California law does not criminalize the striking of opossums, has resulted in a $400,000.00 award from the City of Anaheim, to Anaheim resident Lorenzo Oliver and his teenage son.
Neil Chayet, Looking at the Law, Possum Impossible
Broadcast of October 16, 2012, on CBS News
On March 10, 2008, Lorenzo Oliver and his then 12 year old son, were arrested by Anaheim Police Department officers for Animal Cruelty, and for being an accessory to the same. The APD officers claimed that the boy had struck an opossum with a shovel, and that when his father, Lorenzo Oliver, was asked by the police if his son had done so, he told them that he didnt know, because he was walking away when the shovel striking supposedly happened. The police claimed that this made Mr. Oliver an accessory, by denying knowledge of the suspected crime. In fact, eye witnesses confirmed that no one hit the opossum with any shovel, and that the opossum was injured and bloody from being chewed-up by the Olivers two American Bulldogs in their backyard.
After Mr. Oliver posted a $20,000.00 bail bond, the Anaheim Police Department issued him a Certificate of Release that stated that Mr. Olivers arrest was as a Detention only, as there were . . . insufficient grounds for making a criminal complaint against him.”
Thereafter the Olivers, represented by Newport Beach Civil Rights lawyer Jerry L. Steering, sued the City of Anaheim and the APD officers for false arrest.
On February 23, 2011 United States District Judge Cormac J. Carney dismissed the Olivers lawsuit; holding that the APD officers were entitled to qualified immunity from the Olivers lawsuit, because the California Animal Cruelty statute was so vague, that a reasonably well trained police officer could have believed that striking an opossum with a shovel violated that law.
On August 1, 2012, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed Judge Carneys award of summary judgment, holding that The officers had no probable cause to arrest C.B. and Oliver because the act the officers believed C.B. committedtrying to kill the opossum by hitting it with shovelisnt a crime.Thereafter, Olivers obtained $400,000.00 from the City via acceptance of an Offer of Judgment. The Olivers lawyer, Jerry L. Steering, believes that $100,000.00 per hour for the Olivers arrests is adequate restitution to his clients. Moreover, according to Mr. Steering:
“Rather than receiving kudos for trying to save the mother opossum from their American bulldogs in their backyard, Mr. Oliver and his son were portrayed in the local and national media as monster opossum bashers. When Orange County Animal Care Services refused to come to the Oliver home to help the mother opossum, Mr. Oliver and his son put a laundry basket over the opossum and pushed it out to their driveway, to get it away from their bulldogs. Once out front, the son grabbed a shovel to flip over the basket to let the opossum go. The chewed-up opossum, flung her bloodied babies (Joeys) about and scurried away under a neighbors car. When another neighbor saw the opossum and her Joeys, bloodied and mangled, he assumed that the son must have struck the opossum with the shovel that he saw him holding, and told the police that he did. However, any reasonable police investigation would have shown that the son did nothing of the sort.”
Moreover, even if the police had reasonable grounds to have believed that the son did hit the opossum, their rationale for arresting Mr. Oliver belies reason. According to Mr. Steering:
When Mr. Oliver was questioned by Anaheim Police officers about the neighbors allegations about his son, he told them that he did not know if his son hit the opossum with the shovel, because he had walked away after the laundry basket had been flipped over. For that, the Anaheim Police officers arrested Mr. Oliver for being an accessory after the fact; for covering for his son. This is pure madness. If one could be arrested for telling the police that one didnt see another commit an act, we should all carry our bail bondsmens business cards with us.
Oral Arguments before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeal
LAW OFFICES OF JERRY L. STEERING
 Californias Animal Cruelty statute, Cal. Penal Code 597, provides in pertinent part:
597. (a) Except as provided in subdivision (c) of this section orSection 599c, every person who maliciously and intentionally maims, mutilates, tortures, or wounds a living animal, or maliciously and intentionally kills an animal, is guilty of a crime punishable pursuant to subdivision (d).
 The twelve year old boy.
While section 597(a) of the California Penal Code prohibits the intentional and malicious killing of animals, section 599c provides, No part of this title shall beconstrued . . . as interfering with the right to destroy . . . any animal known as dangerous to life, limb, or property. Cal. Penal Code 597(a), 599c. Regulations confirm that opossums are dangerous by explicitly permitting their killing. Cal. Code Regs. tit. 14, 472(a). The regulations do prohibit certain ways of killing animals, but hitting them with a shovel is not among them. Cal. Code Regs. tit. 14, 475. Indeed, if section 597(a) were construed as prohibiting the killing of wild opossums, it would impermissibly nullify Californias laws that permit killing them. See Cal. Penal Code 599c; Cal. Code Regs. tit. 14, 472(a). Ninth Circuits Memorandum Opinion of August 1, 2012, p.2
 That is for each hour of confinement pursuant to their arrests.
The Case of Nancy Butano v. County of OrangeDonna Reed” gets gooned and ar
What Constitution? (Courtesy OC Weekly)
Nancy Butano v. County of Orange; United States District Court, Central District of California (Santa Ana) Case Number SACV 11-691-CJC (MLGx); United States District Judge Cormac J. Carney. Present trial date: July 9, 2013. Plaintiff Nancy Butano represented by attorney Jerry L. Steering, Newport Beach, California.
Audio Recording of Police Assault – False Arrest Incident of February 10, 2010
On February 10, 2010, Nancy Butano resided with her two twenty month old twin children, along with the childrens father, Paul Luddy, D.V.M. Dr. Luddy operated an equine Veterinarian practice out of their home office in San Juan Capistrano, California. Nancy Butano was a stay-at-home mother, and ran the Home Office.
In the early afternoon of February 10, 2010, one of their neighbors was having yard work done that involved the use of chain saws. The chain saws were waking-up, disturbing and agitating the twins. Dr. Luddy asked the landscapers to stop using the chain saws, because they were disturbing his 20 month old children. They told Dr. Luddy that they would stop using the chain saws use soon as possible. Dr. Luddy then made remarks to the landscapers that they felt were threatening. When Dr. Luddy turned to go back inside of his home, the landscapers claimed to have seen the handle of a large knife tucked under his arm. Dr. Luddys neighbor then called the Orange County Sheriffs Department; complaining that Dr. Luddy had menaced his landscapers with a knife.
Thereafter, at 3:05 p.m. Orange County Sheriffs Department Deputy Sheriff Alexandra Flores, and her Field Training Officer, Deputy Sheriff Charles Stumph, arrived at the scene in San Juan Capistrano. Deputies Stumph and Flores, along with newly arrived Deputy Sheriff Cory Martino, joined-in on the discussion with them and the complaining neighbor and landscapers.
After discussing their plan of action, Deputies Flores, Stumph and Martino walked over to the Butano – Luddy residence, and up to the doorway. The deputies knocked on the door, and Deputy Flores asked Dr. Luddy if they could speak with him. As soon as he stepped outside, he was put-up against the wall of his house, handcuffed, arrested, taken-out to the street and placed in the Flores Stumph patrol car (no criminal charges were ever filed against Dr. Luddy.) When Dr. Luddy was arrested in front of his house, the deputies asked him if anyone else was inside, and he told them that his girlfriend “Nancy” (Butano) was.
Deputy Flores was then told by Deputy Stumph to watch-over Dr. Luddy (in the patrol car), while Deputy Stumph walked back to the Butano-Luddy house to meet-up with Deputy Martino, who had stayed by and outside of the front doorway.
Ms. Butano was speaking with a client of Dr. Luddys, and had been on the phone with her for almost 44 minutes; discussing various bills and invoices with her back at the computer desk in the Home Office room in the rear of the home. Ms. Butano first heard a mans voice calling out her name, and she assumed that the voice was that of a friend of Dr. Luddys, who sounded to be standing in the front doorway. She called-out to the voice that she was on the phone, and would be there in a minute. The males voices continued to hail Ms. Butano, and she continued to tell the men that she was on a business call, and would be there in a minute. Thereafter, she then noticed two men standing in the back living room area of her home; looking at her in the Home Office, and telling her to get off of the phone. Deputy Martino first told Ms. Butano that he was okay with waiting a minute, and then immediately said that he couldnt wait, ordered her to get off of the phone, told her that he was only going to order her (to get off the phone) once, and also ordered her to go outside with the deputies. Ms. Butano had no idea about the incident outside with Dr. Luddy and the landscapers, or even that Dr. Luddy had been arrested. She had no idea why the deputies were inside of her home, or what had happened. All that she did know was that she was alone in the house with her 20 month old twins napping in their stroller, and talking on an important business call.
When Ms. Butano and told the deputies to wait a minute for her to get off of the phone (and that she did not invite them inside of her home), Deputy Stumph carried-out Deputy Martinos threat, and grabbed Ms. Butano, twisted her around, jammed her arms up her back, and pushed her outside of the sliding glass door in the Home Office. Deputy Stumph then slammed the left side of Ms. Butanos head and face against the outdoor sauna, and her head, face, cheek, and arms were throbbing with severe pain. Defendant Stumph ordered Ms. Butano to the ground, and immediately kicked her legs out from underneath her, and hurled her to the concrete; face first. Ms. Butano was crying, bleeding and disoriented, as Deputy Stumph drove his left knee and all of his weight into her back. Deputy Stumph placed extremely tight handcuffs on her wrists, and while still with his knee in her back, Deputy Stumph grabbed the back of her head and her hair, and slammed the left side of her face into the ground about five times; all of which caused excruciating pain. Unbelievably, most of the incident was captured on Deputy Martino’s audio recording of the incident.
Ms. Butano could see Deputy Martino, who had been present during this entire assault of her, standing above her; waving his arms; seemingly motioning to Deputy Stumph to stop beating her, and Deputy Stumph finally stopped; but not before slamming her head against the concrete one more time. Deputy Stumph then lifted Ms. Butano up, slammed her against the sauna, searched her person, and tossed the contents of her pockets onto the cement, along with her sunglasses.
Ms. Butano was told that she was under arrest for interfering with the deputies investigation, but she had no idea what was going on, or what she did that was a crime. She was paraded outside of her home, in front of her neighbors in handcuffs; still complaining of pain from still being brutalized while taken to the patrol car . Ms. Butano was told that her children were being taken to Orangewood Childrens Shelter, and that she was going to jail for resisting arrest. This entire time, Ms. Butano kept on asking the deputies what was going on, and they refused to tell her; at least for quite a long time.
After both Ms. Butano and Dr. Luddy were handcuffed, searched, arrested and were sitting in the patrol car, Deputies Stumph and Martino went back into the Butano-Luddy residence, to search the home for the knife that Dr. Luddy was accused of threatening the landscapers with. They searched the home, without consent, a warrant or an emergency, until that found that knife.
After Ms. Butano had been arrested and placed into the patrol car, the original complaining neighbor approached Deputy Stumph, and asked him why Ms. Butano was being arrested, to which Deputy Stumph replied:
“Shes a bitch” . . . . “She wouldnt go with the program”. . . . “Her phone, business phone call was more important than when you see a cop at the front door with a guns pointed at you.”
Ms. Butano was taken to the Orange County Jail, was sent from there to Western Medical Center for her injuries, brought back to the Orange County Jail, and booked for violation of Cal. Penal Code 148(a)(1)(resisting / obstructing / delaying a peace officer). Notwithstanding Cal. Penal Code 853.6, she was not released (and then only upon bail), even though that Penal Code Section requires the cite and release of misdemeanor arrestees unless they meet one of several criterion; none of which Ms. Butano met. This punitive refusal to cite and release Ms. Butano resulted in her not being able to regain custody of her children for six days, as well as the taking of her dogs and gecko by Orange County Animal Care Services. She was never prosecuted.
Preliminary Hearing Held For Civil Suit Against City, Police Dept.,
Desert Hot Springs Family Claims It Was Terrorized By Police Officers
A civil trial against the city of Desert Hot Springs and its police department will soon get under way.
Edward Moore, Jr. and his family claim they were victims of police brutality in 2005.
In court Tuesday at the Larson Justice Center in Indio, Riverside Superior Court Judge Randall White presided over a hearing to determine what evidence will be admissible in the trial.
The plantiff claims that after two family members were involved in a hit-and-run incident in front of their home in July 2005, they were met by hostile police officers.
Moore alleges when he presented Sgt. Anthony Sclafani with a piece of paper with the license plate number of the vehicle that fled the scene, he was punched and pepper-sprayed by the officer.
The suit also claims several of Moore’s family members were roughed up and/or pepper-sprayed.
Attorneys representing the city of Desert Hot Springs aren’t commenting at this point, but Jerry Steering, one of the attorneys representing the Moore family, did weigh in on the case.
“It’s really about a police department gone wild, and about what happens when you have leadership in a police department that exhibits cruelty toward fellow creatures and doesn’t care about the constitutional rights of anybody,” said Steering. “It shows callous disregard and really, a cruelty on the Desert Hot Springs Police Department.”
Sclafani and former officer David Henderson, who are named in the suit, were brought up on federal charges of police brutality.
Henderson has already pleaded guilty.
Attorneys hope to select a jury by early next week and then begin opening statements late in the week.
Orange County RegisterBy RACHANEE SRISAVASDISee Original Article
Man stunned by deputies in his bedroom gets $380,000
The county and Laguna Beach settle a lawsuit brought by Skip Torrance after deputies entered his home and shot him with a stun gun.
Torrance jumped out of bed. He walked toward his bedroom wall to turn on a light switch.
The men grabbed Torrance, who felt an “unbelievable” pain in his chest. He fell onto the floor.
“I thought that was it,” he said. “I thought I was going to be raped and robbed.”
Then, Torrance saw that the intruders were two sheriff’s deputies, one of whom had shot him with a stun gun.
“They were telling me I was the one involved in the fight in Laguna,” he said. “I didn’t know what they were talking about.”
Deputies Jose Pelayo and Jason Mann were wrong. Torrance was not the man involved in a fight earlier that night, Sept. 4, 2008, outside a Laguna Beach restaurant. After Torrance was detained in his Dana Point home, the victims were brought to see him. They said he wasn’t the man.
Deputies arrested Torrance anyway, alleging he cursed and lunged at them before he was shot with the stun gun. Torrance was taken to Orange County Jail and bailed out.
Orange County prosecutors later declined to criminally charge Torrance with resisting a peace officer, citing insufficient evidence.
Torrance, a commercial banker with no criminal record, decided to sue the Orange County Sheriff’s Department and Laguna Beach Police Department, whose investigation led deputies to Torrance’s house.
He settled the lawsuit in October for $380,000. The county of Orange paid $300,000, while the city of Laguna Beach paid $80,000.
Torrance said he didn’t file the lawsuit for the money.
“I’m not happy about what I went through,” he said. “I don’t trust law enforcement anymore. If you’re in trouble with (police), who are you going to call? Like my friends told me, ‘If this can happen to me, living in a gated community in South County, it can happen to anyone.’”
For Torrance, it came down to being at the wrong place at the wrong time.
His wife was out of town, so Torrance decided to meet friends for dinner in Laguna Beach that night. He dressed casually, wearing sandals. Walking back to his car, he stubbed his toe on the curb and started cursing. Unbeknownst to him, a woman heard him cursing, and thought he looked suspicious. She copied the license plate number of his Subaru as Torrance drove away.
Nearby, Laguna Beach police were trying to find a man who had assaulted a woman after an argument outside the K’ya restaurant at Pacific Coast Highway and Cress Street.
The woman who observed Torrance gave officers his license plate number.
Laguna Beach police ran the plates, and traced the car to Torrance’s wife, and eventually to the couple’s home.
They asked sheriff’s deputies to detain Torrance, informing them that he might be driving under the influence and might have been involved in a misdemeanor battery incident, court records show.
While sheriff’s deputies rushed to Torrance’s home, Laguna Beach police continued their investigation and learned the fleeing suspect might have had a shaved head and been wearing a white shirt.
They radioed that information to sheriff’s deputies, who were under orders to simply “contact and possibly detain” Torrance, who was described by the woman as having dark hair, records show.
Torrance’s Newport Beach attorney, Jerry Steering, faults Laguna Beach police for telling sheriff’s deputies that the suspect might have been under the influence without any evidence.
“Police think they are going to deal with a guy who is drunk or violent,” Steering said. “He’s neither.”
Deputies got to Torrance’s house and knocked on his front door, records show. After receiving no response, they went around to the backyard, where they found an open sliding glass door leading to a bedroom, where Torrance was lying face-down on his bed.
Deputies say they went into Torrance’s room to do a “welfare check” on him, court records show.
“They’re so concerned about his welfare, they tell him to get up or they’ll Tase him,” Steering said.
“Maybe he startled them by jumping about his bed,” he added. “But what do you think he was feeling? He had just been Tasered.”
Laguna Beach police and the city’s attorney on the case, Mark Austin, declined to comment.
The sheriff’s department, in a statement, said it “has conducted an extensive review of policy, procedure and training in all areas of Sheriff’s operations including Fourth Amendment search and seizure requirements and the use of the electronic control device,” since the September 2008 incident.
“The department has also implemented systems of review and accountability, which include the timely review of critical incidents, the identification of related issues or concerns, and the implementation of immediate corrective action where necessary,” the statement added.