NOTABLE CRIMINAL CASES IN SAN BERNARDINO COUNTY SUPERIOR COURT, THAT MR. STEERING TURNED AROUND INTO CIVIL CASES.
Penny Trent v. County of San Bernardino, et al.
On June 3, 2012, at approximately 3:30 p.m. San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department Deputy Sheriffs Carolyn Chadwell and Kirsten Mitchell answered a call for service of a husband beating his wife at their home at 12486 Kiowa, Apple Valley, California . The deputies received no response to their knocking on the Penny and Wayne Trent’s door, so they entered the house and found Penny Trent and her husband partially undressed in the bathroom . Rather than leave the residence once the welfare of the residents was confirmed, Deputies Chadwell and Mitchell interrogated them about the call for service (i.e. the domestic violence call.) After discussing the incident with Penny and Wayne Trent, the Deputies decided to arrest Mr. Trent for felony corporal injury on a spouse (Penal Code Section 273.5), handcuffed him and put him in their patrol car.
When the deputies took Mr. Trent out to the patrol car to go to jail, they told Penny Trent to have a seat in the living wait in the living room, and they’d be right back. Deputies Chadwell and Mitchell placed Mr. Trent into the patrol car, and Deputy Chadwell returned to the residence with a Marsy’s Victim’s Card ; the brochure that is given to Domestic Violence victims  by police officers.
When Deputy Chadwell returned to the door of the home with the Marsy’s Card for Mrs. Trent, she saw
Penny Trent sitting on her living room couch. The couch appears at an angle to the front door area (See below, photo of view of couch from front door.) Deputy Chadwell apparently could not see one of Penny Trent’s lower arms when she saw her and stated to her: “Penny; where’s your other arm.” In literally less than one second after asking that question, Deputy Chadwell shot Penny Trent twice in her left leg. Although the bullets grazed her leg, Penny Trent was horrified from being shot, and at a complete loss as to why Deputy Chadwell would shoot her. This is all audio recorded ; a copy of the audio shown below.
Deputy Chadwell claimed that she shot Penny Trent because when she reentered the Trent residence, she saw Penny Trent with a blank stare on her face and said that Mrs. Trent’s hand was under a couch pillow. Mrs. Trent’s hand was just resting on the pillow on the couch, but from the front doorway area, Deputy Chadwell could only see her right hand. Deputy Chadwell didn’t give Mrs. Trent a chance to respond to her question, or to show her left arm. She just shot her within one second of asking her where her left arm was. Neighbor witnesses told the Sheriff’s Department that Deputy Chadwell then broke-down and cried about having shot Mrs. Trent.
Immediately after Deputy Chadwell shot Mrs. Trent, Deputies Chadwell and Mitchell ordered Penny Trent to exit her residence, and when she did, the deputies threw her to the ground on the rock front lawn, handcuffed her and placed her into their patrol car; imprisoning her there. On the audio recording by Deputy Chadwell of the June 3, 2012 shooting incident, the shooting takes place at 17 min. 02 sec. of the audio recording; one second after the Deputy asked Mrs. Trent: “Where is you left hand”?
Thereafter, several Sheriff’s Department supervisors and other officers came to the Trent residence and decided what to do with Mrs. Trent . After discussing the shooting of Mrs. Trent with each other, the Sheriff’s Department then conspired to take Penny Trent to the Apple Valley Station, so they could interrogate her in a coercive manner ; to try to get her to say something to try to justify their shooting of her  (she never did.) It’s a federal crime and federal constitutional violation to take a person to the police station for questioning, without probable cause to arrest them (Hayes v. Florida, 470 U.S. 811 (1985)). That’s just what they did to Penny Trent, and it’s shown on the recording shown below.
Notwithstanding Mrs. Trent’s repeated requests to leave the station, the Sheriff’s Department investigators kept Penny Trent at the station. They even created police reports showing that a crime had occurred (i.e. Cal. Penal Code § 245; assault with a deadly weapon), that Penny Trent was the “suspect” of the shooting, and that Deputy Chadwell was the “victim”. The geniuses at the Sheriff’s Department did a gunshot residue test on Penny Trent, even though she was the one shot. Even worse, the investigators at the Apple Valley station made Penny Trent undress down to her underwear, to take photos of any marks or bruises on her; supposedly for the criminal case against Mr. Trent.
Moreover, to add insult to injury, the Sheriff’s Department (Investigator Robert Thacker) unlawfully obtained a search warrant for the search of Penny Trent’s house, and used the bogus pretense of a criminal investigation, to perform their civil liability investigation. This was the Sheriff’s Department’s only chance to inspect the premises, as police officials cannot obtain a search warrant to do civil liability investigation; only to investigate crimes. Therefore, the Sheriff’s Department had to misrepresent the purpose of their application for a search warrant to Judge Stanford Reichert; claiming that their search would reveal evidence of a crime (the only crime really being Chadwell’s shooting of Penny Trent.)
Eventually, in the early morning hours of June 3, 2012, the Sheriff’s Department drove Mrs. Trent home after they were done with their illegal search of her residence.
Although ever since O.J. Simpson decapitated his wife “Domestic Violence” seems to be the worst crime that one can commit, because the Sheriff’s Department shot the domestic violence victim (Penny Trent), when they took Mr. Trent to the hospital that same evening, they posted no guard in / at his hospital room, and actually let him “escape.” To date, no criminal charges have been filed against Mr. Trent, because the Sheriff’s Department can’t prosecute Mr. Trent without publically implicating themselves in shooting the very victim of that crime.
None of this is surprising, save the actual shooting itself. Police agencies typically arrest the victims of their outrages, and in the coercive atmosphere of custodial interrogation, attempt, and often succeed, in getting their victims to make statements against their interest; statements that “spin” the facts or otherwise somehow shift all or part of the blame to the citizen – victim. This is normal, notwithstanding it being obvious to any peace officer that it’s unlawful to take someone to the police station for questioning in the absence of probable cause for their arrest. See, Hayes v. Florida, 470 U.S. 811 (1985.) The ends that the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department will go to, to protect themselves from civil liability is incredible.
Moreover, although the Sheriff’s Department just couldn’t keep themselves from illegally taking Penny Trent to the police station in handcuffs (i.e. false arrest, kidnapping civil rights criminal violations), because they screwed up and shot the victim that they were there to save, they need to get a coerced and skewed statement of what happened. They need to get Penny Trent to the station there and now, even though they had no right to have done so, because the coercive environment of police interrogation, allows the cops to shape the story, and to get you to agree with statements that are not true and that are against your interest, because after that moment in time, you are going to not be so vulnerable, and will likely have a lawyer.
Notwithstanding all of that, the Sheriff’s Department didn’t get an actual formal statement from Deputy Chadwell, until five days after her attempt to kill Penny Trent; an audio copy of her interview being below and playable. Case Result: $600,000.00.
People of the State of California v. Jonathan Osborne; Rancho-Cucamonga San Bernardino County Superior Court criminal action for violation of Cal. Penal Code § 148(a)(1) (resisting / obstructing / delaying peace officer.) Jonathan Osborne’s mother had ordered a suicide kit from a lady in San Diego, who the FBI had raided for selling the kits. The FBI found an unfilled order for the kit, so the feds called the Upland (California) Police Department to check on the welfare of the parents at the Osborne home. When the Upland Police Department showed-up at the Osborne home, the only person there was Jonathan Osborne; one of the Osborne’s sons. The police demanded entry into the home and arrested (and beat-up) Jonathan Osborne, for refusing to consent to the police officers’ demand to make a warrantless entry into the Osborne home. Notwithstanding the fact that a 1974 California Supreme Court case (People v. Wetzel, 11 Cal.3d 104 (1974)) held that it is never a crime to stand in one’s doorway and to refuse their consent to a warrantless search of one’s home, the Crimes Against Peace Officers Unit of the San Bernardino County District Attorney’s Office refused to dismiss the case, because they have an express policy of never dismissing cases alleging a police officer victim. Moreover, the Upland Police Department destroyed an exculpatory audio recording of the incident that was recorded by the main Upland Police Department officer. Result: Case settled on appeal by defendants for confidential sum.
People of the State of California v. James Lemoine; Rancho-Cucamonga San Bernardino County Superior Court criminal action for felony assault on a peace officer and felony interference with public officer’s performance of duties. An Ontario Police Officer located Mr. Lemoine in a neighbor’s home after incident with his girlfriend, resulting in her called police on him. Mr. Lemoine attempted to flea the officer and attempted to jump through window of home to escape. Mr. Lemoine got stuck in the window sill assembly, and was shot in the back by the Ontario Police Department officer while in that position. He posed no threat to the officer, who was exonerated of wrongdoing by Ontario PD (“What’s wrong with shooting an unarmed man, stuck in a window frame, cut-up, with one leg outside and one leg inside?”) The officer claimed that Mr. Lemoine attacked him in an effort to escape; a complete fabrication; something actually quite normal for peace officers. However, the only people who get to sit on juries in police misconduct cases, civil or criminal, have not personally witnessed police misconduct (all that have seem to always tell the court during jury selection, that the event of police misconduct that they witnessed had such a profoundly negative opinion and general distrust of, if not contempt for, peace officers, that they are actually prejudiced against peace officers in these type cases, and are, therefore, excused to sit for cause as a juror.) Therefore, the only people who are asked to judge who is lying; the defendant or the Constable, are people who believe that police don’t do bad things to people who didn’t deserve it; morally, if not legally, because they have only had positive experiences with peace officers. That’s why it’s so difficult to win in these officer vs. civilian swearing contests; notwithstanding the Constable repeatedly lying on the stand. However, it can be done, and it was done here. Hon. Ben T. Kayashima, Judge Presiding: Jury Verdict: Not Guilty all Counts.
People of the State of California v. Tom Austin; Rancho-Cucamonga San Bernardino County Superior Court criminal action for resisting / obstructing / delaying peace officer. Mr. Austin’s 16 year old son and his classmates were video recording a reenactment of the famous Sacco an Vanzetti armed robbery incident (that Sacco and Vanzetti were innocent of, but executed for), for a High School History project. The boys wore black ski masks and carried pellet guns, and had dressed-up the Austin’s garage to resemble a bank teller window counter. Some neighbors saw the youths and (notwithstanding a youth recording the reenactment with a tripod mounted video camera outside of the garage) thought that the youths were home invasion robbers, and called the police.
The youths were detained downstairs in the garage, and when Mr. Austin heard screaming (the police screaming orders to the youths) he walked downstairs to tell the youths to be quiet (to not to disturb the neighbors), and when he reached the bottom of the stairs and turned a blind corner, he saw the barrel of a policeman’s pistol pointing directly at and in front of his face. The officer ordered Mr. Austin to turn around, and when he asked the officer (who was now standing inside of Mr. Austin’s home) what was going on, the officer pepper-sprayed him in his face, handcuffed him and took him to jail. The Ontario Police officers concocted the story that Mr. Austin lunged for the officer’s gun, and that’s why he pepper-sprayed him. Mr. Steering found that a recording of the immediate post pepper-spraying activities, had been altered to conceal the true contents of the discussion between Mr. Austin and the officers. Hon. Gerard S. Brown, Judge Presiding: Result: Jury Verdict: Not Guilty (Mr. Steering later obtained a $500,000.00 jury verdict in favor of Mr. Austin, against the arresting officers, as shown below.)
People of the State of California v. Milt Holland; Rancho-Cucamonga San Bernardino County Superior Court criminal action for resisting / obstructing / delaying peace officer. Mr. Holland leased the old CHP office building in Ontario, to work on prototype bus control computer system. Ontario Code Enforcement wanted to check the building to see if Mr. Holland also was residing in the same. The area was only zoned for commercial occupancy; not residential. Ontario Code Enforcement officers, along with Ontario Police Officers, approached the chained-closed padlocked rear entry entry gate of the premises, and saw Mr. Holland behind the gate; elevated; standing in a construction trailer. The officers ordered Mr. Holland to open the gate, and Mr. Holland simply walked away from the locked gate, and into the building. The officers used the “master key” (i.e. bolt cutters) to enter the yard, and arrested Mr. Holland and took him to jail for violation of Cal. Penal Code § 148(a)(1); resisting / obstructing / delaying a peace officer in the performance of their duties; the catch-all crime that the police use when they don’t actually have any grounds to arrest a civilian, since Section 148(a)(1) is so nebulous and ambiguous, it could be, and many many times has been, construed as meaning just about anything, and is used to arrest people who “fail the attitude test”) Click on tab, above on “Criminal Attorney – Contempt of Cop Resistance Cases”, for a more developed analysis of police misuse of Section 148(a)(1.)
After Mr. Holland had gone through four criminal defense lawyers, who told him to plead guilty to misdemeanor delaying / obstructing an officer (Section 148(a)(1), for not opening the gate), Mr. Holland retained Mr. Steering, who look one look at the Ontario PD report and immediately knew that even on the face of the Police Report, that there was no crime committed by Mr. Holland. On the day set for trial, Mr. Steering asked Judge Dennis G. Cole to dismiss the case on the ground that if everything that the police were contending in their reports was true, it nonetheless is never a crime to refuse an officer’s demand to search a place, thing or person, in the absence of a search warrant. If reading Mr. Steering legal authorities to support that proposition of law (See v. City of Seattle, 387 U.S. 541 (1967) and Camara v. Municipal Court, 387 U.S. 523 (1967) (both holding that the state can’t criminalize a mere refusal to consent to warrantless entry), Judge Cole told the District Attorney’s Office that his “case was in the toilet”. Result: Case Dismissed pursuant to Mr. Steering’s invitation to the Court, to dismiss the case on its own motion, in the interest of justice (Cal. Penal Code § 1385.)
JANE and JOHN DOE v. County of San Bernardino, U.S. Dist. Court Cent. Dist. of Cal. [Riverside] (2000); $50,000.00.
Deputy Sheriff Attempts To Frame Husband And Hide Romance Wife, By Hiding The Drugs Found On Her From The DA’s Office:
In this case, Mr. Steering obtained $50,000.00 from the County of San Bernardino, for a criminal defendant’s claim against the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department, for planting evidence of drug manufacturing, during the deputy’s unlawful search of a probationer’s residence; notwithstanding probation Bravo search terms. While in the process of planting evidence, the deputy sheriff actually discovered even better evidence of the very crime that the deputy sheriff was attempting to frame the defendant for. It’s like framing the guilty. That way, the police don’t need to bother with obtaining evidence against the persons who they believe are engaged in ongoing criminal enterprises (i.e. manufacturing or selling narcotics); they can just provide the evidence themselves, and save us all of the time and money incurred and expended, in investigating and obtaining competent and admissible evidence of criminal conduct that will stand-up in court.
When a San Bernardino County Probation Officer and Sheriff’s Department Investigator did a probation search of JOHN DOE’s residence (the “husband” was on felony drug possession probation), they saw all sorts of pornographic photos, exotic clothing and sex toys in the home, and became immediately infatuated with the beautiful occupant of the residence; JANE DOE; the cohabitant girlfriend. The Sheriff’s Department Investigator arrested JANE DOE for narcotics possession, and took her to jail; stopping on the way to jail to show-off his “catch.” Although her bail was $500,000.00, the Investigator got it reduced to release on her own recognizance (something unheard of in San Bernardino County), to attempt to date her.
The Investigator broke back into the DOE residence after arresting JANE DOE, as he had seen a VHS video at the home earlier marked: “XXXX.” When the Investigator then played that video at the DOE residence, he not only watched JOHN and JANE DOE having all sorts of sex, but also saw a recording of JOHN DOE cooking meth. However, there was no meth manufacturing chemicals or equipment at the house. So, in an effort to frame the guilty, the Investigator planted meth “cooking” equipment in the residence, and he and the Probation officer staked-out the house for several days, until JOHN DOE showed back-up at his home. When JOHN DOE entered the house, he was immediately arrested for meth manufacturing, based on the items planted by the Investigator, who wanted to put JOHN DOE in prison, to free-up JANE DOE for dating.
Mr. Steering was able to obtain $50,000.00 for the defendant from the County for the Investigator’s actions, and Mr. Steering was able to negotiate a 10 year sentence for JOHN DOE, rather than the 25 years to life sentence for a third strike drug manufacturing.