News

Update: Deputy sued over courtroom gun incident

 

This is an expanded version of a story posted earlier.

Former courthouse custodian Jose Verdusco has sued San Mateo County and a deputy sheriff, seeking to recover damages in connection with an April 2015 incident in a courtroom in which Deputy Andy Mar, in the room as a bailiff, allegedly unholstered his loaded service pistol and pointed it at Mr. Verdusco.

The lawsuit, dated March 14, alleges assault on the part of the deputy as well as false imprisonment, intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress, and a civil-rights violation.

The lawsuit names San Mateo County as a co-defendant, alleging negligent hiring, training, supervision and retention.

"Without cause or provocation," Mr. Verdusco says in the lawsuit, Mr. Mar pulled his loaded gun from his holster and pointed it at Mr. Verdusco with his finger on the trigger and said, "You want some South Carolina justice?" A week earlier, a white police officer from North Charleston, South Carolina, had shot and killed an unarmed black man with his back to the officer and running away.

Mr. Mar has been on paid administrative leave since two days after the incident, according to the Sheriff's Office, and charged with a misdemeanor. "Rude brandishing of firearm constitutes (a) violation of (the) misdemeanor brandishing statute," District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe said in a January 2016 report.

Mr. Verdusco, 34 and married with two children, has since been diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder, has had expenses for drugs and medical services, and has had to move on to a new job that does not involve proximity to law enforcement officers or firearms, according to his Redwood City attorney, Todd P. Emanuel.

The Almanac was unable to reach Mr. Mar's attorney for comment.

Gun unholstered

The lawsuit alleges that on the morning of April 13, 2015, Mr. Verdusco entered courtroom 7B in Redwood City to speak with the court clerk and court reporter. Also in the room was Deputy Mar, in uniform and working as a bailiff.

Mr. Verdusco says in the lawsuit that he became "alarmed and scared" after Mr. Mar drew his gun, and that he moved to avoid being within the sights of the gun. He eventually "escaped" the courtroom through a back door, the lawsuit says.

In accusing Mr. Mar of violating Mr. Verdusco's civil rights, the lawsuit refers to an earlier encounter between the two in which Mr. Mar allegedly said, "They hire any Mexican here."

Mr. Verdusco reported the incident and two deputies went to the courtroom to address the situation, the lawsuit says. With the two deputies in the courtroom, the lawsuit says, Mr. Mar told one of them that "he knew why they had come to see him" and that he "did it" despite a deputy "forcefully telling him to be quiet" to "protect Mr. Mar from making any incriminating statements."

A misdemeanor?

"I believe the DA's inspectors did a very comprehensive and efficient investigation of this case and I applaud them for doing so," Mr. Emanuel said. "They interviewed everyone, asked all the right questions and they really dug for the truth."

"I'm not applauding the DA for exercising his discretion to charge Deputy Mar with merely a misdemeanor when it should have been a felony," he said.

"Imagine the case in some other context," he said. "Imagine that a security guard at Facebook or Yahoo or Google points a loaded gun at a Hispanic employee of the company and utters the words, "You want some South Carolina justice?"

"I just don't understand why this case is charged as a misdemeanor. I really don't," he said. "I think it's troubling that the Sheriff's Office initially attempted to conduct an internal investigation instead of handing it off. (The sheriff) wanted to make sure there wasn't an arrest or prosecution."

The Almanac asked the Sheriff's Office for a comment on Mr. Emanuel's statement. In response, Chief Deputy County Counsel David Silberman, who is supervising the county's defense, said the Sheriff's Office did conduct an internal affairs investigation and that it "fully cooperated with the District Attorney's criminal investigation from its inception. Any assertion to the contrary is offensive and false. I have seen absolutely no support for the allegation, which is just that, an allegation."

Mr. Silberman said that Mr. Verdusco's claim of negligent hiring, training, supervision and retention on the part of the county is not valid. "The county cannot be liable on the legal theory that Mr. Verdusco alleged," Mr. Silberman said. The plaintiff "may not understand the way that government liability works," he added.

A case management conference is scheduled for June 2. Mr. Emanuel would not discuss remedies, but described the damages in the case as substantial. "Post traumatic stress is well recognized as a very serious injury," he said. "(Mr. Verdusco) worked in the courthouse for more than 10 years and intended to live out his career in that capacity."

Comments

6 people like this
Posted by One question only
a resident of another community
on Mar 22, 2016 at 9:50 am

To Mr. Silberman: if the DA and Sheriff are so anxious to achieve justice here, HOW CAN THIS MAN STILL BE EMPLOYED AS A SHERIFF'S DEPUTY IN SAN MATEO COUNTY?

Remember, actions speak a lot louder than words. The comment of Mr. Emanuel is right on about what would happen if this took place in a private company. Not only would a felony be charged, but a hate crime enhancement would have been added.


4 people like this
Posted by Sad!
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Mar 22, 2016 at 11:47 am

Welcome to San Mateo County.


1 person likes this
Posted by Michael G. Stogner
a resident of another community
on Mar 22, 2016 at 12:13 pm

Cailfornia Penal Code 417 section (a)(2)(A) Exhibiting a Concealable Firearm in Public


This is not remotely close to what happened in that Courtroom to that Victim.


4 people like this
Posted by One question only
a resident of another community
on Mar 23, 2016 at 10:40 pm

By the way, here's how DA Steve Wagstaffe recently dealt with a taxpaying senior citizen who backed his truck out of his own driveway to get away from a Menlo Park code enforcement officer he felt was harassing him:

Web Link

Wagstaffe threw the book at him with multiple charges, including the serious felony of assault with a deadly weapon, and the jury found him not guilty very quickly. This is a case that never should have been brought.

No gun was pulled. No "South Carolina" justice was threatened. No undercurrents of racism possibly existed. The officer wasn't injured, and apparently did not move out of the way of this vehicle to prevent the senior citizen from legally exiting his own home so he could avoid the unpleasant experience of dealing with her, as was his legal right (he wasn't arrested or detained), even though she presumably felt it was an affront to her authority.

A felony was charged against senior citizen Jerry Jenkins even though he committed no crime and there were not eyewitnesses as they are in this situation with Deputy Mar.

Why is only a misdemeanor being charged against this sheriff's deputy? Why isn't the corresponding felony assault with a firearm charge being levied against this deputy?

Again, why is the deputy still being paid with our taxpayer dollars?

By the way, here's the answer I had hoped the Almanac would have posited. Had Wagstaffe charged the deputy with the felony he deserves, a conviction would end his law enforcement career whether Sheriff Greg Munks wanted it to or not. Law enforcement officers in California convicted of a felony lose their jobs because they are then ineligible to possess a firearm.

So rather than acting to protect the citizens he represents from a corrupt sheriff who won't do the right thing here, Wagstaffe is protecting Munks' ill-conceived decision to keep this deputy on the payroll by ensuring that even if he is found guilty of this act, his deputy job remains intact.

Wagstaffe is doing this even though any citizen in San Mateo county would have to agree that at bare minimum, if Deputy Mar did the things he is accused of (and there are multiple eye witnesses), he should not be a law enforcement officer since he does not have the judgment or temperament to be entrusted with the firearm he so quickly used to threaten this unarmed man in a totally unjustifiable way.


Like this comment
Posted by Menlo Voter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Mar 24, 2016 at 7:14 am

Menlo Voter. is a registered user.

Actually, according to this: Web Link

The deputy would be ineligible to possess a firearm for 10 years. This would effectively end his career.

10-Year Prohibitions
• Any person convicted of a misdemeanor violation of the following: Penal
Code sections 71, 76, 136 .5, 140, 148, subdivision (d), 171b, 171c, 171d,
186 .28, 240, 241, 242, 243, 244 .5, 245, 245 .5, 246, 246 .3, 247, 273 .5,
273 .6, 417, 417 .1, 417 .2, 417 .6, 422, 626 .9, 646 .9, 830 .95, subdivision (a),
17500, 17510, subdivision (a), 25300, 25800, 27510, 27590, subdivision
(c), 30315, or 32625, and Welfare and Institutions Code sections 871 .5,
1001 .5, 8100, 8101, or 8103 .

The more likely reason he was only charged with misdemeanor 417 is that it will be easy to bargain it down to a 415 which carries no firearms prohibition.


2 people like this
Posted by Michael G. Stogner
a resident of another community
on Mar 24, 2016 at 7:29 am

One Question Only, you bring up an excellent point.

Sheriff Greg Munks does fire some deputies and not others, he did fire Colin T. Smith before he had a trial.

He should have fired Andy Mar as soon as the IA Investigation was complete.

He should also look at the two Sheriff Office Employees who conducted the investigation.

I recommend an outside agency investigate these issues in the future.


3 people like this
Posted by Plane Speaker
a resident of another community
on Mar 30, 2016 at 5:06 pm

How can it be so hard to NOT hire lunatics as police ?

Has anyone checked our water for lead lately .. why is it that
so many people seem to go off the rails?


1 person likes this
Posted by Menlo Voter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Mar 30, 2016 at 7:33 pm

Menlo Voter. is a registered user.

Plane:

in SMC it doesn't matter if you're sane, it matters if you're part of the "in" crowd. Which means you are a member of law enforcement, as long as you don't challenge the existing status quo. If you are a member of the "in" crowd you can do virtually anything you want without fear.


1 person likes this
Posted by Michael G. Stogner
a resident of another community
on Mar 30, 2016 at 8:56 pm

Also known as "Those who Matter."


1 person likes this
Posted by SMC Taxpayer
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Mar 31, 2016 at 9:35 am

PAID administrative leave!?!?! Figures from this agency. Someone should look into how this agency is spending our Tax Dollars!


Like this comment
Posted by Michael G. Stogner
a resident of another community
on Aug 30, 2016 at 7:16 am

Update in the criminal trial.

The Jury found San Mateo County Sheriff Deputy Andy Mar……………..NOT GUILTY


Like this comment
Posted by Menlo Voter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Aug 30, 2016 at 7:20 am

Menlo Voter. is a registered user.

".NOT GUILTY"

No surprise.


Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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