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Two months ago I broke this story to the readers of Dailykos, that you found important enough to place on the recommended list, Police Chaos at Democratic Campaign Event

Here's a Summary of the event from a local article I wrote:

Last Friday a noise complaint against Francine Busby's Cardiff fundraiser blew up into a full scale police action -- complete with helicopter support, massive reinforcements, fire truck and canine squad. It ended with several people handcuffed, pepper spray discharged and the homeowner jailed for resisting arrest.

Had the police (represented by San Diego County Sheriff's Deputies) been raiding a terrorist explosive cache or a major drug cartel, this demonstration of force would have been warranted, but actually the nature of the meeting was quite the opposite. The gathering was an integral component of the democratic political process, a candidate expressing her views and asking for citizen support.

After a six week investigation, the District Attorney of San Diego County, Bonnie M. Dumanis, submitted her report yesterday, concluding as follows:

After this review of the deputy’s actions,we see no legal basis to bring criminal charges against Deputy Abbott.

In addition, our review of the evidence indicates there has been a misdemeanor violation of the law by both Ms. Barman and Ms. Morgan. They delayed and obstructed the officer while he was performing his duties. However, based upon all of the many conflicting accounts, our office would not be able to prove this case beyond a reasonable doubt to a jury. Accordingly, in the interest of justice, no charges will be filed against either Ms. Barman or Ms. Morgan

Now keep this in mind as I continue.  The deputy, that is the police officer, was innocent, which is the normal presumption without a trial and conviction. However the owner of the house and her guest were guilty, as decided not by a judge or a jury, but by one individual who is elected to be chief prosecutor of the county.

Ms. Dumanis, the D.A., says that the interviews, all seventy of them, are confusing and contradictory. Let's see what she is able to distill from these diverse reports:

We can also confirm that after first being contacted by the deputy, Ms. Barman walked away from him and then returned toward him twice. Those closest to the deputy and Ms. Barman corroborate that the deputy informed Ms. Barman he would arrest her if she did not give her date of birth. She once again refused, turned, and began to walk away. It was at this point the deputy grabbed Ms. Barman’s arm/wrist area in his attempt to detain her. (Whether this tactic was appropriate is not within the purview of this office but rather that of the Sheriff’s internal investigation.)


We can confirm that Ms. Barman went to the ground at two different points during the scuffle. Because accounts of the incident vary significantly, it is also impossible to determine if Ms.Barman was pushed, fell or was forced to the ground.

Perhaps Ms. Barman, who was there, might provide a valuable source of information.  From her statement released today (sorry-entire statement not available)

The next thing I know, Deputy Abbott violently grabbed my right wrist, twisted it behind my back and threw me to the concrete floor...twice.  At some point, he was kneeling on top of me with his knee pressed into the back of my knee with the rest of his 250 + pounds on my back.  I was then dragged across the floor through broken glass before he let me onto my feet.  As I was being walked out of my home with my wrists handcuffed behind me, another sheriff's deputy with a police dog threatened to release the dog on me.

She has bruises, abrasions and MRIs to verify this account, along with witnesses.  But the D.A. doesn't give such details such as who said what, just explaining that it was all too confusing.

There is another glaring inconsistency, if we go back to the D.A.s statement previously excerpted:

It was at this point the deputy grabbed Ms. Barman’s arm/wrist area in his attempt to detain her. (Whether this tactic was appropriate is not within the purview of this office but rather that of the Sheriff’s internal investigation.)

She acknowledges not knowing whether this act of force by the deputy, whom she has exonerated absolutely, was "appropriate" or not.  If it was inappropriate it was assault, crime under the color of law, something taken very seriously by the constitution and the FBI.  If it was inappropriate not only should the deputy be tried, but the injured have a damn good civil case against the county and perhaps the city.  

And if the deputy's use of force was "inappropriate" did not the person it was inflicted upon have every right to defend herself.  If the force was inappropriate, a self described unanswered question, just how in the world does the D.A. proclaim that the two women were unconditionally guilty of a "misdemeanor violation of the law." For what, defending themselves against an illegal act of violence?

The two women who were arrested were traumatized by this event. As was the woman who was in attendance whose background was an agent for the Drug Enforcement Agency, who routinely went into situations facing deadly force.  Her trauma was not being brutalized by the police, but seeing her belief in the supremacy of law in this country dissolve before her eyes in the lawlessness of sworn upholders of the law.

I haven't spoken to her since this report came out, as she is sort of laying low, actually fearing for her family if she were to be too vocal a critic of thousands of armed men who decide that she is their enemy.

Democracy is something we all revere, yet when the head of the county police agency and the head of the office of prosecution are elected by voters who have a strong authoritarian bent, democracy may not work as hoped.  It may empower those who choose to interpret events in a way that ignores unconscionable behavior against individuals by those who are sworn to "serve and protect."

With our focus here on national issues and elections, we sometimes lose site of the importance of those choices at the bottom of the list of candidates.  Certainly, choice of top national and state positions are important, but as illustrated here, those who occupy the position of local Sheriff, or Police Chief, along with local District Attorney, have a direct influence on whether we live in liberty or in fear.

And when the two are on the same team, the wrong team, there is very little that a single individual can do to preserve justice.  

Originally posted to ARODB on Wed Aug 26, 2009 at 08:39 PM PDT.

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