Last week I wrote a post here on the Liberal OC concerning the events surrounding the tragic suicide of a 16 year old young man whose parents are both lieutenants with the Orange County SheriffÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Department. The basis of that post was an April 25th Los Angeles Times article written by Christine Hanley and Stuart Pfeifer in which questions arose in regards to the handling of the investigation by OCSD officials, including Interim Sheriff Jack Anderson who was an Assistant Sheriff at the time.
Shortly after posting the story on this blog I received a phone call from Damon Micalizzi, Director of Public & Community Relations for the OCSD, in which he expressed his disappointment and anger regarding my post. Mr. Micalizzi made it clear to me that he felt that my post was wholly inaccurate and a cheap shot at Acting Sheriff Anderson and the department. He also said that he understood that this was not my fault because I based my post on information written in the Times article. (The Liberal OC has contacted the Times and they stick by their story and also say that no one from the OCSD has contacted them to dispute anything written in that article; Mr., Micalizzi insisted he contacted the Times reporters about the errors, but the Times reporters indicted there were no such complaints from the SheriffÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Department regarding this particular story).
After a long conversation with Mr. Micalizzi I agreed that for the sake of fairness and accuracy that I would remove that post and allow the OCSD to offer its side of the story. Much to my surprise Mr. Micalizzi told me that not only would we get to sit down with someone from the OCSD to talk about this, but that we would actually be sitting down with Acting Sheriff Jack Anderson himself and that we could discuss anything that we would like.
Yesterday fellow Liberal OC blogger Dan Chmielewski and myself met with Acting Sheriff Anderson at his office in Santa Ana. In Part I of our conversation we discuss the tragic events of January 7th and the subsequent investigation by internal affairs and the District Attorney.
It was clear from the outset that there is a new Sheriff in town. albeit on an interim basis. Ã¢â‚¬Å“I meet with the media all the time,Ã¢â‚¬Â Anderson said, Ã¢â‚¬Å“and the reason is to set the information accurate. I understand that the previous administration wasnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t always so open to the media and thatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s not my style. There are no bars here and anything you want to talk about is fine.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Regarding the tragic suicide incident Acting Sheriff Anderson admitted that he was not fully aware of the details of the Los Angeles Times article or my post on the subject. He did however tells us how things transpired on that day from his point of view. The Times article hinted at some sort of misconduct or intentional wrongdoing on the part of OCSD officials. Anderson said he has initiated an internal investigation about the incident, in addition to an investigation by the District AttorneyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s office. He said he would release the findings of the investigation once completed, but also believes any wrongdoing on the part of investigating deputies was unintentional given the nature of the incident involved people with many friends in the department.
Questions have arisen as to why so many OCSD officials were at the scene that day as have allegations of possible evidence tampering. He explained that they were there to offer comfort to their friends, their co-workers. Anderson said that when he arrived, Ã¢â‚¬Å“The crime scene had already been defined and since everybody was in the house that couldnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t have been the crime scene. The crime scene was obviously the backyard. I stayed in the living room the whole time.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Anderson assured us that it is proper procedure for a log of everyone that comes and goes from a crime scene be kept. He said that it was done in this case as well. Since the house was not designated as part of the crime scene there was no log kept on who came and went from the residence itself.
Anderson said that once he heard that there was possible wrongdoing in regards to how the investigation was handled he ordered a complete investigation. Ã¢â‚¬Å“WeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re not going to tolerate that. We have policies and procedures in place,Ã¢â‚¬Â said Anderson. Anderson said that the investigaton is still ongoing within his department and at the DA and he assured us that he will share the findings with the Liberal OC.
Should the findings show that errors were made Anderson said he will see to it that they are remedied. It will depend as to whether the errors were in his words Ã¢â‚¬Å“maliciousÃ¢â‚¬Â or simply Ã¢â‚¬Å“a matter of trainingÃ¢â‚¬Â as to how the department proceeds with the matter.
Look for Part II of our conversation with Sheriff Jack Anderson on the Liberal OC Monday. We will discuss the appointment of a new Sheriff, his future with the department, Mike Carona and many more issues.
Dan Chmielewski contributed to this post.