News


Sheriff's deputy charged with brandishing gun in courtroom

Deputy told prosecutors he was checking the gunsight

A San Mateo County deputy sheriff accused of pointing a gun at a custodian in a Redwood City courtroom in April explained to investigators that he did have his gun out of its holster, but that he was checking the gunsight, prosecutors said.

Deputy Andy Mar, 50, is facing a charge of misdemeanor brandishing of a firearm, District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe said.

Prosecutors filed the charge on May 7 and arraignment is set for Friday, May 22, at 8:30 a.m. in Redwood City Misdemeanor Court.

Mr. Mar has been on administrative leave since April 15, according to Deputy Rebecca Rosenblatt of the Sheriff's Office.

Mr. Mar was working as a temporary bailiff in a seventh-floor courtroom on April 13, according to prosecutors. Also in the courtroom, which was not in session, were a custodian, a court clerk and a court reporter, Mr. Wagstaffe said. At the time of the incident, the custodian and the clerk were talking at the clerk's desk, prosecutors said.

Deputy Mar allegedly drew his gun and pointed it in the direction of the custodian, prosecutors said. The custodian tried to move out of the way, but the deputy kept the firearm "displayed in his direction," prosecutors said.

Mr. Mar denied pointing the gun at or near the custodian and said he was checking the gunsight. "That's what he said," Mr. Wagstaffe said. It was a new gun, he added. All the deputies were issued new guns recently.

Asked whether the custodian exchanged words with Mr. Mar, Mr. Wagstaffe said the evidence is inconsistent, based on interviews of the four people in the courtroom at the time.

A person convicted of brandishing a weapon can be fined up to $1,000 and sentenced to up to a year in jail, Mr. Wagstaffe said. Police officers who brandish a gun while not in the lawful performance of their duties can be charged, he said.

Mr. Mar's attorney has not yet responded to a request for comment.

Dave Boyce

Comments

3 people like this
Posted by Enough
a resident of Atherton: other
on May 8, 2015 at 11:47 am

ONLY a misdemeanor charge?


3 people like this
Posted by Enough
a resident of Atherton: other
on May 8, 2015 at 12:01 pm

Very odd that the San Mateo District Attorney is being so circumspect here and is refusing to tell the press what prompted Deputy Mar to allegedly brandish his weapon. He had no trouble dishing every last detail in Deputy Juan Lopez's case.

However, the Mercury News has given the reason in their just published story. :

Web Link

Excerpt:
The district attorney and sheriff have yet to disclose why Mar is alleged to have pulled out his firearm, but sources told this newspaper that the bailiff and custodian were discussing a recent incident in which a South Carolina police office shot and killed a fleeing black man.


2 people like this
Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on May 8, 2015 at 1:37 pm

Menlo Voter is a registered user.

enough:

brandishing is a misdemeanor offense. Can't be charged as a felony.


1 person likes this
Posted by SteveC
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on May 8, 2015 at 5:16 pm

SteveC is a registered user.

Not every crime is a felony. The misdemeanor is sufficient. He certainly doesn't need to be employed in law enforcement or any other job carrying a firearm.


Like this comment
Posted by Michael G. Stogner
a resident of another community
on May 8, 2015 at 5:24 pm

Dave Boyce could you please check and see if there was also another woman in the courtroom when this happened.
Court Recorder?

"Also in the courtroom, which was not in session, were a custodian and a court clerk who were talking at the clerk's desk, prosecutors said."


Like this comment
Posted by Michael G. Stogner
a resident of another community
on May 8, 2015 at 11:22 pm

Thank You


Like this comment
Posted by Reader
a resident of another community
on May 9, 2015 at 7:10 pm

Checking a gunsight in a ***courtroom***? Does he think people are freaking idiots?

This is insane.


2 people like this
Posted by Decoding this
a resident of another community
on May 9, 2015 at 8:34 pm

Let me just lay out what I think is going on here.

Menlo Voter, you are right. Brandishing is a misdemeanor and cannot be charged as a felony. But what you're leaving out is that felony assault with a firearm is ROUTINELY brought in California for pointing a LOADED gun at someone. What Andy Mar did more than meets this requirement. Brandishing is charged when an UNLOADED gun is pointed at someone. This is the clear dividing line used time and time again.

SteveC, you are wrong in what you imply: IF Andy Mar is convicted of this misdemeanor, he does not lose his job as a cop. Only a felony conviction disqualifies a police officer from holding that office. If he is convicted of a misdemeanor, that would be grounds for Sheriff Greg Munks to fire him, but it would be up to Munks.

But I think there's more to read between the lines here.

What I predict is a plea deal here to slap Mar on the wrist, but without an actual misdemeanor conviction along with it. I predict this because the prosecution usually charges the highest charge they can justify (in this case, CLEARLY felony assault with a firearm) and then considers a plea deal for the lesser charge (misdemeanor). Even this isn't happening here.

What I believe happened here is that Wagstaffe and Munks decided they had to do something since this story hit the papers, and are hoping that by the time Mar doesn't get fired, everyone will have forgotten about it. At MOST, Mar will resign in exchange for entering an anger management program or some such thing without criminal penalty. I predict not even that.

Reader, you are right. This is insane. It's really ridiculous.

Now, here's the important part: does ANYONE think that an ordinary citizen (i.e., not a cop) who points a LOADED gun at someone in a courthouse would just get charged with a misdemeanor and not a felony?


2 people like this
Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on May 9, 2015 at 9:15 pm

decoding:

sorry, but you're mistaken, the loaded or unloaded status of the weapon has nothing to do with it. It's brandishing whether it's loaded or not. It's not felony assault either. I suggest you look up the penal code and read it.

If a police officer is convicted of an offense involving a gun, misdemeanor or felony, he is no longer eligible to carry or possess a firearm. Effectively ending his career.

I agree Wagstaffe is filing charges because this thing hit the papers. Never would have done so otherwise.


Like this comment
Posted by Decoding this
a resident of another community
on May 10, 2015 at 11:00 am

Menlo Voter, felony assault with a deadly firearm is brought all the time by California D.A.'s when a loaded gun is pointed at someone. Take a look at the jury instructions:

Web Link

Item 4 is related to the loaded nature of the gun. Note the two provisos: "The People are not required to prove that the defendant actually intended to use force against someone when (he/she) acted. No one needs to actually have been injured by defendant's act."

Bottom line is that D.A. Steve Wagstaffe gave this deputy a huge benefit of the doubt that a taxpaying citizen would never get. This case was undercharged, and done so on purpose. The fact that this deputy had the enormous deficit in judgment to do this in a courtroom should have sealed the deal for the harshest possible charge.

By the way, given the discussion that took place that allegedly prompted May to draw his gun, and the victim's minority status, it also would have been totally par for the course for Wagstaffe to have charged a Penal Code 422.7 and 422.75 , threatening someone because of their race ("hate crime" statute), bringing enhanced penalties.

Editor's note: According to the District Attorney's Office, the custodian is Latino and the deputy, Asian American.


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Posted by Decoding this
a resident of another community
on May 10, 2015 at 5:26 pm

"Editor's note: According to the District Attorney's Office, the custodian is Latino and the deputy, Asian American. "

I'm not following the significance of this. Only the race of the victim is significant in the hate crime statute. I guess you could argue that if they were both Latino, how would one be committing a hate crime against the other, but this is not the case here.


2 people like this
Posted by Decoding this
a resident of another community
on May 10, 2015 at 5:29 pm

I'd also like to add that I did some more research, and Menlo Voter is right in that IF there is a conviction of the misdemeanor brandishing, May can no longer carry a firearm and thus no longer be a police officer in California. The statute that prohibits carrying a firearm includes conviction of any felony, but also specified misdemeanors. Brandishing is one of them.

BUT my prediction continues to be a plea deal in which there is no misdemeanor conviction, and no loss of the job. That's why it wasn't charged as the felony it should have been (plea deal with a felony leads to accepting a misdemeanor). This was set up, in my view, to be pled out without the misdemeanor conviction.


Like this comment
Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on May 10, 2015 at 5:48 pm

just what would the plea deal be? He has to plead to something.


Like this comment
Posted by Decoding this
a resident of another community
on May 10, 2015 at 5:54 pm

Disturbing the peace.


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Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on May 10, 2015 at 6:04 pm

He hasn't been charged with that. And unless I'm mistaken it's not a lesser or included offense of brandishing.


Like this comment
Posted by Michael G. Stogner
a resident of another community
on May 10, 2015 at 7:23 pm

This could have been charged.

California PC 245 (a)(2) - Assault with a Firearm
California Penal Code 245(a)(2) specifically punishes assault with a firearm. You commit PC 245(a)(2) if you shoot someone, shoot at someone, point a gun at someone, or use a gun as a blunt force weapon (aka “pistol whip”).

245(a)(2) is known as a “wobbler”, or a law that the prosecutor can choose to charge as a misdemeanor or a felony. The prosecutor will base that decision on factors such as the type of weapon used, whether the alleged victim sustained an injury, and the seriousness of that injury.

We know that there were 3 reports made on this incident right away. HR, SO, and DA

I am curios to see if any of those mentioned a second confrontation in the cafeteria?


2 people like this
Posted by Decoding this
a resident of another community
on May 10, 2015 at 8:23 pm

Menlo Voter, lesser included charge is no issue. The D.A. drops the brandishing charge, brings the disturbing the peace (or any other misdemeanor for which he won't lose his job), and the defendant pleads to it as part of a deal. Happens all the time.

Let's just think this through. If May is found guilty of the misdemeanor brandishing, he'll lose his job, but it would be highly unlikely to see any jail time for a first time misdemeanor offense. Some probation. If he pleads to the brandishing, he loses his job. It's a no brainer for him. He has zero incentive to take any deal on the brandishing.

That's why prosecutors charge the highest charge they can justify, to change the risk calculus for the defendant. If May were facing a felony conviction, with real jail time, it's a different story. Then May might figure cut a deal to plead to the misdemeanor.

Wagstaffe knows this. Wait and see. There will be a plea that does not include brandishing, the offense for which he would lose his job over.


Like this comment
Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on May 11, 2015 at 8:26 am

Menlo Voter is a registered user.

must be nice for cops in this county. Santa Clara County DA would have thrown the book at him.


Like this comment
Posted by Michael G. Stogner
a resident of another community
on May 11, 2015 at 3:54 pm

Deputy Mar has not been arrested and the DA is not concerned about him being in possession of weapons he was given an appearance date on May 22, 2015 to appear in court.


Like this comment
Posted by Decoding this
a resident of another community
on May 11, 2015 at 4:41 pm

Before I asked:

"Now, here's the important part: does ANYONE think that an ordinary citizen (i.e., not a cop) who points a LOADED gun at someone in a courthouse would just get charged with a misdemeanor and not a felony?"

The better question is:

"Now, here's the important part: does ANYONE think that an ordinary citizen (i.e., not a cop) who points a LOADED gun at someone in a courthouse would not be arrested?"


1 person likes this
Posted by Michael G. Stogner
a resident of another community
on May 12, 2015 at 11:24 am

Today the Palo Alto Daily Post has a front page story on the Deputy Andy Mar charges explained by Angela Ruggiero.

"During the incident, the judge was not in the courtroom and the only other person present besides Mar and the custodian was a court clerk at her desk."

This needs to be addressed. It's one thing to have a witness that does not want to be involved, does not want to make a statement I understand that. It's another to pretend she wasn't in the courtroom.

The court recorder, the court clerk, the custodian and Mar all in the courtroom at the same time. Lets have a reporter confirm this once and for all.


Like this comment
Posted by Michael G. Stogner
a resident of another community
on May 12, 2015 at 12:03 pm

Just asking,

Should the State Attorney General be prosecuting this case since the alleged crime happened in the State Courtroom?


Like this comment
Posted by Decoding this
a resident of another community
on May 12, 2015 at 11:39 pm

Michael, there are good reasons for the Attorney General to be prosecuting this case (and in fact any case involving accusations of wrongdoing against county law enforcement) instead of San Mateo D.A. Wagstaffe, but the rationale you cite is not one of them. The reasons I'm thinking of have to do with Wagstaffe's historical cronyism with the San Mateo sheriff, ethics, and right versus wrong, but not the law. It's not going to happen, unfortunately. And while I'm appalled that this deputy did not get arrested for conduct that would have brought a SWAT team down on a normal citizen, not many other people seem to be in this county. It's really unfortunate.


Like this comment
Posted by curious citizen
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on May 14, 2015 at 1:50 pm

Editor: Is there any way the custodian can be interviewed by The Almanac to get her/his statement on what was said to each other? Seems fair, in that the bailiff has been.

Thank you


Like this comment
Posted by Is it true?
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on May 20, 2015 at 1:58 pm

Is it true that the San Mateo DA's office at first DENIED any knowledge of the gun brandishing incident when the San Jose Mercury News first contacted them?

Someone's got some splainin' to do.


Like this comment
Posted by Michael G. Stogner
a resident of another community
on May 20, 2015 at 3:45 pm

It depends on who is brandishing a gun in this County.
Jason Whitney Jones of Redwood City was arrested yesterday on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon, making terrorist threats, brandishing a firearm and vandalism.

Sheriff Deputy Andy Mar 4/13/15 in Courtroom allegedly pulled his gun held it with both hands, aimed at victim (another county employee) made threats…"South Carolina Justice"

Similar cases Jason was arrested Deputy Mar was told to be in court May 22, 2015


Like this comment
Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on May 20, 2015 at 7:41 pm

Menlo Voter is a registered user.

The Santa Clara County DA would have charged this to the max had it happened there. Must be nice to be breaking the law in San Mateo County when you're in law enforcement. When will the sheeple of this county wake up?


1 person likes this
Posted by Is it true?
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on May 21, 2015 at 3:03 am

As of yesterday, the Almanac has in its possession the names of the two witnesses to the incident. The paper was also given behind the scenes details and names of other players that have not yet been reported in the press. Whether tthe Almanac pursues this horrifying story remains to be seen.


Like this comment
Posted by Michael G. Stogner
a resident of another community
on May 21, 2015 at 5:39 pm

Sheriff Deputy Andy Mar did have a court date for tomorrow but his attorney Josh Bentley filed for him so next court date is: pretrial conference on July 14, 2015 8:30.

jury trial on August 17, 2015 9:00 AM


Like this comment
Posted by Is it true?
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on May 22, 2015 at 5:48 am

Mr. Stogner:

What about the janitor? Isn't he planning to sue deputy sheriff Andy Mar?


Like this comment
Posted by Michael G. Stogner
a resident of another community
on May 22, 2015 at 12:51 pm

Is it True asks

"What about the janitor? Isn't he planning to sue deputy sheriff Andy Mar?"

He does have an attorney here in Redwood City, I don't know what his plans are.


Like this comment
Posted by Is it true?
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on May 24, 2015 at 5:44 am

Mercury News has a story out yesterday about the Andy Mar incident. Interesting new details:


Web Link

Excerpt:

Attorney: Armed deputy threatened janitor with 'South Carolina justice'
By Aaron Kinneyakinney@bayareanewsgroup.com

POSTED: 05/23/2015 10:13:12 AM PDT1 COMMENT| UPDATED: ABOUT 20 HOURS AGO

REDWOOD CITY -- Facing criticism for filing only a single misdemeanor charge against a bailiff who allegedly threatened a janitor with a handgun in a courthouse, San Mateo County District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe said the case is marked by conflicting statements and may be tough to prove.

Todd Emanuel, the custodian's attorney, made his first public comments Friday on the bizarre case, accusing Wagstaffe of going easy on sheriff's deputy Andy Mar. The janitor, Jose Verdusco, alleges that Mar pointed a loaded gun at his head during a court recess on April 13 and asked if he wanted some "South Carolina justice."


Like this comment
Posted by Decoding this
a resident of another community
on May 24, 2015 at 11:50 pm

[Mischaracterization of the Almanac's position has been removed.]

Here's my idea: a two-column comparison between Andy May and Juan Lopez. Alleged offense, whether guns were drawn against either one of them, arrest status, etc. This would fall in the category of cop Wagstaffe wants to protect versus cop Wagstaffe wants to go after.

The next week, maybe the same thing can happen between Andy May and Jason Whitney Jones, the citizen who had the book thrown at him by Wagstaffe by seemingly doing something quite a bit less serious than Andy May. This would fall in the category of cop Wagstaffe wants to protect versus just a bottom-of-the-totem-pole citizen in San Mateo county.

This is a serious suggestion, because the words coming out of Wagstaffe's mouth in the Mercury article are readily determined to be claptrap much more easily when compared against other situations instead of being construed in a vacuum.

With apologies to the obvious offense to Mr. Hine's sensibilities, it seems to me at least that a highly paid county sheriff shouting "South Carolina justice" when pulling a gun on an employee in a courthouse for no valid reason would be very newsworthy anywhere in the United States. Although the Almanac did do a story, the story as it is seems devoid of actually testing the statements made by Wagstaffe, by comparing and contrasting his portrayal of the alleged status quo for these types of offenses with the stark inconsistencies of how others are treated. The readers are unlikely to do so on their own. Isn't this the whole purpose of journalism?


Like this comment
Posted by Is it True?
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on May 25, 2015 at 2:50 am

Concerning the Jason Whitney Jones gun brandishing incident: this happened at a party where one can reasonably assume that the people in attendance were drinking. And yet the DA charged Jones based on statements from witnesses at the party.

The two people who witnessed the Andy Mar incident were court employees. One is a court stenographer who makes a living based on listening very carefully to what people say. Presumably neither she nor the other witness had not been drinking. Unlike a party, the courtroom is a controlled setting.

And yet Wagstaffe is trying to paint a picture of confusion and conflicting statements in the Mar incident!


Like this comment
Posted by Michael G. Stogner
a resident of another community
on May 25, 2015 at 7:11 am

Decoding this, That is a great idea. also please check spelling on Mar vs, May

April 13, 2015 Location inside a Courtroom on 7th floor of the 400 County Center Building, Sheriff Deputy Andy S. Mar pulls a loaded gun from holster holds it with both hands aims it at Jose Verduzco and at the same time says "I'll show you South Carolina Justice"

Most people in San Mateo County realize that if we did this, We would expect to be arrested, for a Felony.

Today it's 42 days after this was reported to 3 different agencies and NO arrest of Deputy Andy S. Mar. Also note what was the first date any newspaper reported about this. Did this make DA Wagstaffe's daily Newsworthy e-mails to reporters? nope.

Comparison to Deputy Juan Lopez arrested on front yard of one of his homes by 4 officers with guns drawn. DA Wagstaffe holds a press conference and tells reporter Scott Morris that he is charged with embezzlement of campaign funds of up to $400,000.00. When it was brought to Mr. Morris's attention that Deputy Lopez only raised about $250 and the embezzlement charge seems to be impossible which it was he also got a communication from Mr. Wagstaffe stating "you got it wrong." When he was asked where did you get the $400K number? He said "I don't recall"

San Mateo County would be safer if we had Comprehensive Performance Audits

That way it would be much harder to have a case of deliberately overcharging a defendant to cause financial, emotional and physical harm as we have with the Deputy Juan Lopez case.


Like this comment
Posted by Is it true?
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on May 25, 2015 at 8:19 am

Will the Almanac be investigating whether there was any obstruction of justice in this incident?


Like this comment
Posted by Is it true?
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on May 27, 2015 at 1:39 pm

The very popular legal blog, "Above the Law" run by Harvard and Yale Law school grad David Lat, posted a link to the Mercury News story with the header: " Is San Mateo District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe Going Easy On A Sheriff's Deputy Accused of Wrongdoing?"

Scroll down for item:

Web Link


2 people like this
Posted by Michael G. Stogner
a resident of another community
on Jun 24, 2015 at 10:25 am

Todays PADP

Eric Madrigal 50 of Redwood City was sentenced yesterday to 4 years 8 months in prison for holding a person at gunpoint for a moment of tension.


4 people like this
Posted by Et alia
a resident of another community
on Jun 24, 2015 at 3:03 pm

From the Wagstaffe report, it looks like Eric Madrigal was sentenced for
felony possession of a firearm by a felon and Count V 30305(A) possession of ammunition by a felon. The jury found the defendant not guilty Count III 422 felony threats and deadlocked at 8-4 for not guilty on Count I 245(B) felony assault with a firearm.

A court trial on the prior convictions was conducted and Judge Novak found all of the prior convictions true: 1-1170.12(C)(1) prior felony strike conviction, 3-667.5(B) prior prison terms and 1203(E)(4) probation ineligibility.


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