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Carrillo back, refuses to talk about arrest

Sonoma County Supervisor Efren Carrillo pauses as he hands out awards during la Fiesta de Independencia at the Wells Fargo Center for the Arts on Saturday Sept. 15, 2012 in Santa Rosa. (KENT PORTER/Press Democrat)


Sonoma County Supervisor Efren Carrillo, back from a nine-day trip to Russia, returned to the public arena at a pair of local events on Saturday but remained tight-lipped about the street fight that resulted in his arrest in San Diego nearly two weeks ago.

The 31-year-old supervisor shared no new information about the incident and refused to discuss how he is dealing with the ramifications, political and otherwise, that stem from his legal case.

Last week, police downgraded the charges to a pair of misdemeanor allegations: battery causing serious bodily injury and disturbing the peace. The San Diego city attorney now has the case and will determine whether or not to prosecute.

Carrillo, who returned from Russia on Friday, declined Saturday to talk about the case, including who he was with in the Gaslamp Quarter of San Diego and the events that led to his arrest at 2:10 a.m. on Labor Day outside a popular nightclub.

Beyond echoing a written statement issued by his office Sept. 5 — two days after his arrest and a day before he left for Russia — his only answer was to say that he plans on giving a “full report” about the incident toward the beginning of this week.

“Until that time, I will only say that I’ve put out a statement and that everything I said in that previous statement is true,” Carrillo said Saturday morning in a telephone call.

Responding to questions about his arrest, he echoed only the information in his first statement: That he was on a personal trip to San Diego and was socializing with a group of friends, including women, who he stepped in to protect when they were harassed by “rowdies.”

“I’ll have a more thorough report next week,” he said.

Carrillo’s comments came hours before he appeared at a pair of community events Saturday, including a celebration of Mexican Independence Day at the Wells Fargo Center for the Arts.

There, at 3 p.m. in front of a crowd of more than 100 in the East Auditorium, organizer Crystal Rangel introduced Carrillo to applause as “an example to follow for all of our youth.”

Carrillo spoke of his family background — his parents immigrated from Mexico and raised their family in Santa Rosa — and presented several leadership awards to community organizations.

“For me it’s an honor to be here celebrating the day of Mexican independence,” he said to the crowd in Spanish.

Support for Carrillo was steadfast among attendees.

The arrest and allegations change nothing, said Salvador Oseguera, 71, of Santa Rosa, who said he voted for Carrillo in June, when he won a second term on the Board of Supervisors.

Carrillo remains the only county elected leader who is Latino, Oseguera said. “We’re going to continue to support him. He’s the only one we have,” he said.

Later in the day, the county supervisor was among more than 700 people taking part in the annual 4H Foundation of Sonoma County fundraiser, at Richard’s Grove and Saralee’s Vineyard outside Windsor.

The public appearances were the first for Carrillo — in the United States, at least — since news of his arrest filtered out Sept. 5.

Since then, debate has persisted over how Carrillo and his advisers have handled the aftermath, as well as questions about the future, including the implications for Carrillo’s political career — one seen by many to include a future bid for higher office.

On Saturday, Carrillo said that his prepared statement has provided constituents with an adequate account of his actions, for now.

Supporters insist Carrillo’s response to his arrest has been reasonable, geared at this point toward protecting his legal defense.

“As Efren can reveal more detail, he will reveal more detail,” said former Sonoma County supervisor Eric Koenigshofer, a close political supporter.

However, one political observer countered that Carrillo’s silence outside of his prepared statement has the potential to backfire.

“From the legal perspective, the smartest thing to do is shut up. From a political standpoint, it’s bad optics,” said Sonoma State University political scientist David McCuan. “Those things in this set of circumstances clash.”

Michael Pancer, Carrillo’s San Diego-based attorney, said last week that he had advised the supervisor not to discuss the case publicly until the investigation was complete.

Police wrapped up their inquiry Friday when they turned over the case to the city attorney.

But Pancer, who was named in 2010 by San Diego Metropolitan magazine as one of the region’s top 25 lawyers, said that step does not end all inquiry into the case. Carrillo’s public statement will come “when I think it won’t interfere with the investigation,” he said.

“From my review of every witness statement, Efren acted in an absolutely laudable manner that evening,” he said.

Pancer was unable to say definitively whether it was Carrillo or one of his advisers who contacted him first about the case. He said he does not know how Carrillo was referred to his office.

According to police records, Carrillo gave his statement within three hours of his arrest. Police would not release the statement, which is part of the investigation. They disclosed few other details last week about the fight or Carrillo’s alleged role in it.

An Arizona man, 30-year-old Jovan Will, was knocked unconscious in the fight and was briefly hospitalized. He has declined to comment.

Carrillo spent about 10 hours in custody. He was released from jail just before noon Sept. 3 after posting $10,000 bail. Jail officials would not say who posted his bail. He returned to Sonoma County, where he attended the Sebastopol City Council meeting on the night of Sept. 4.

His arrest surfaced on Sept. 5 in a report on KGO radio. Those who worked most closely with him said Carrillo had not spoken with them about the arrest before the news broke. His aide, Susan Upchurch, said she learned of it earlier that morning when questioned by a reporter. Later that day, his fellow supervisors said he had not discussed the incident with them.

The next morning, Carrillo departed for Russia with a group of 23 North Coast residents marking the bicentennial of the founding of the former Russian settlement of Fort Ross on the Sonoma Coast. Over the next 10 days, Carrillo did not respond to multiple telephone calls, emails and text messages seeking comment about his role in the altercation.

By the time he returned, the criminal case had been downgraded.

The allegations initially included felony battery, but police last week reduced that potential charge for Carrillo to a misdemeanor.

Police would not elaborate on the decision that resulted in the lesser allegations.

Initially, Detective Gary Hassen said the decision was made by a captain, later identified as Capt. Mark Jones. Jones declined to comment last week, referring questions back to Lt. Andra Brown, the department spokeswoman. But Brown could not confirm how the ultimate decision to downgrade the case was made, saying usually such decisions depend on “officers’ observations, witness statements and the outcome of the investigation” and are usually made by the detective involved — in this case, Hassen.

“I can’t offer anything more to clarify,” Brown said.

Brown said she did not know if anyone interceded in Carrillo’s case or exerted political pressure.

“If someone had, I don’t know that we would disclose that anyway. It is part of the investigation,” she said.

Another man, Rayan Jastaniyah, 22, of San Diego was arrested on the same allegations as Carrillo. Those charges were narrowed to a misdemeanor disturbing the peace. Attempts to contact the man, who also has been identified by the name Ryan Astiniya Saelmj, have been unsuccessful.

Political observers said the change in Carrillo’s case to a misdemeanor — and the possibility it could be dropped altogether — were significant.

“That changes the scenario,” said Mike Reilly, the former supervisor for the 5th District, which takes in part of west Santa Rosa and most of the west county.

“It’s an unfortunate situation, and certainly not something that Efren’s proud of,” Reilly added, “but I don’t think there’s going to be any long-term political damage from it.”

Any fallout will likely be minimal in the county, with Carrillo not up for county election until 2016, said a Democratic Party insider who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the delicacy of the situation. But the case could hurt him, the source said, if Carrillo runs for higher office and attempts to court voters who don’t know him.

It’s too early to assess the political fallout, said McCuan, the Sonoma State political scientist.

“The degree to which it affects his future, we don’t know yet,” he said.

Carrillo has deflected questions about the San Diego trip, including who he was with and where he was that night, saying repeatedly that it was “personal business.” Most sources shied away from the topic, dismissing it alternately as private business.

People should not be surprised that Carrillo would be out after midnight in a popular entertainment district, several former elected officials said.

“When people elect a single, 31-year-old man, they need to understand there’s probably some socializing that goes along with that,” Reilly said. “Folks are willing to take that into account with all of the positives they get out of the deal as well.”

Carrillo’s supporters discounted the possibility of any shadow developing over his career.

“I look forward to seeing Efren move forward as a Democrat in politics,” said Marie Gil, a Santa Rosa labor organizer who touted the supervisor’s story to several Latino leaders at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte two weeks ago. “Anything the Latino community can do to stand behind him, I would be for.”

37 Responses to “Carrillo back, refuses to talk about arrest”

  1. Reality Check says:

    Sheesh! I don’t even like the guy, but everyone is entitled to their day in court. This is the USA, not Libya, although the vitriol and flaming on this web board comes close sometimes.

    I notice the affect it had on Carrillo’s reelection.

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  2. Reality Check says:

    What’s the point in hiring an attorney if you don’t follow his advice? The first thing Carrillo was told was to clamb up. He could be innocent and everyone is interpreting his silence as a sign of guilt, when it isn’t.

    This matter isn’t so important that it can’t wait the results of a proper investigation. In the meantime, the people who like to shoot first can have their fun.

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  3. Heme says:

    Dick Tracey: the victim did indeed go to the hospital as was reported in numerous articles and he went as “unconscious with serious injuries” as also reported and corroborated by the police report which to me means he was beaten to a pulp.

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  4. Elsa Samson says:

    Why doesn’t Supervisor Carrillo show the police report or video if it was truly about “self defense”? Why is there no report on his blood alcohol level? Why are none of his “friends” he was defending willing to step forward and speak on his behalf? I think he has been lying and evading long enough. Efren: Speak to your constituents. Why should we trust you again?

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  5. GAJ says:

    Well, after basically giving Carillo the benefit of the doubt, I think I have to jump on the bandwagon as he has NOT followed through on the following:

    “…he plans on giving a “full report” about the incident toward the beginning of this week.”

    In my book the beginning of the week ended yesterday.

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  6. Eric Newman says:

    OK, I’m not a big fan of Efren’s politics, but I’ve been in similar situations where loser hoodlums lurk around bars and try to make up for the fact that no women want to talk to them, let alone go home with them, and they start harassing women in order to try to humiliate and emasculate the man they are with. These punks picked the wrong guy to commit their trangressive act on, and he used his martial arts skills to put his female friends out of danger. This incident won’t cause him any loss of reputation, because a lot of us respect a man who can physically defend his women friends. He has the Latino vote locked down after this episode. One Latino buddy of mine said admiringly,
    “Efren es muy mas macho!”

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  7. George L. Marshall says:

    It is far too convenient for Efren Carrillo to simply ignore any requests for an explanation from his constituents after being involved and arrested in a street brawl.Why should we take his or his lawyers word that he was defending women? None of these women have corroborated his story and neither does any video. I am certain that he and his expensive lawyers are working overtime to keep the video hidden because it does not show his claims to be true. Like his mentor Doug Bosco he simply feels that he is above the rules that the rest of us must follow. At least Rue Furch never got drunk and knocked a man unconscious in a sleazy bar fight. I wish I had voted for her. Being late on your house taxes is starting to look better.

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  8. Dick Tracy says:


    Pure fiction. The “victim” wasn’t hospitalized. I am unaware of any evidence that the “victim” was “beaten to a pulp.

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  9. Heme says:

    The facts are that he beat a man to the point of serious injury and unconsciousness causing him to be hospitalized. Carrillo was not provoked physically otherwise he would have claimed self defense, which he did not. He beat a guy to a pulp because he did not like what he said. He used undue force and that is illegal, especially from someone who is a martial arts master. Is that how he handles somebody that says something he does not like – sends him to the hospital? He should be penalized just like the rest of us would and he is certainly not fit to serve as our leader and is a deplorable example for our youth. He needs to go and if we sit here and let him get away with it, shame on us!

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  10. Reality Check says:

    “This time MOVE out of southwest Santa Rosa area – most of us do NOT want you.”

    Didn’t we just have an election in which Carrillo received a majority of votes? I believe so.

    Like Carrillo, don’t like him, I don’t care. But one’s reasons for or against ought at least to bear some relation to reality.

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  11. Dogfather says:

    He was at Fluxx on 4th Avenue. Look them up on Facebook and check their photos section, you will find him in the folder titled “Sid Vicious Saturdays.”

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  12. Kay Tokerud says:

    Efren was too young to be elected to the Board of Supervisors. McGuire too. I posted comments to this effect when they were running for office a few years back. What life and work experiences made these two qualified to represent the people in our county? How many other elected officials do you know that were arrested for a street brawl? I don’t know of any.

    Why elect children to important positions of power? Aren’t there plenty of experienced mature people to choose from? Of course there are. People like Efren and Mike should have to work their way up the ladder, thereby proving over time that they have what it takes to represent us. Look at the age of the people running for office and look at their background and experience they are bringing to bear on the office. Without a track record they don’t deserve your vote.

    In Santa Rosa, we have another under 30 candidate running for City Council that has no track record at all except that she attended and graduated from a law school and was able to pass the Bar exam. What we do know about Erin Carlstrom is that she married Nick Caston who had to quit the Santa Rosa Planning Commission along with Michael Allen who were both the subject of a Sonoma County Grand Jury investigation. Nick Caston then appointed his wife Erin Carlstrom to the SR Planning Commission after he abruptly quit. The sum total of Erin’s experience is that her husband gave her his appointed position. What has she done to earn any credibility whatsoever? If you don’t have credible information about a person’s background due to inexperience or their age don’t vote for them. Without a track record, there’s no way to know what they will do or who they will be beholden to when they get elected. No more under 30s please.

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  13. Concerned says:

    Carrillo hasn’t even had the good taste or sense to apologize for his brawling ways in San Diego. It just verifies what an arrogant, small minded politician he really is.

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  14. Sarah P says:

    So, let me get this straight. Efren was in the right to defend his friends, and George Zimmerman was in the wrong?

    What injuries did the “friends” sustain from the roudies?

    Thank God Efren did have a gun.

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  15. Annie Erving says:

    The neighbors and homeowners of the southwest area of Santa Rosa still remember Efren as a NO show at our meeting(s) regarding the WALMART homeless shelter aka Samuel Jones Community Center.

    The last one before cramming it down the throats of our neighborhood was held at Wright Elementary. After 10 years of these meetings by the City of Santa Rosa and the County Board of Supervisors; we THOUGHT we had a person on the board of supervisors – that cared.


    Shame on you……we are voters and taxpayers.

    Also some of your own county employees will remember you as a NO show – we live here.

    Dump it all in our (supposedly YOUR) neighborhood – 2 elementary schools & middle school hop skip & jump to the MEGA homeless shelter.

    Thanks for telling us taxpayer homeowners what you really think of our neighborhood.

    Next time – set up the MEGA homeless shelter on the East side of town or better yet the FOUNTAINGROVE area.

    You should change DISTRICTS again and move to get votes again.

    This time MOVE out of southwest Santa Rosa area – most of us do NOT want you.

    The apple does NOT fall far from the tree.

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  16. Dick Tracy says:

    @Pack of Strays

    “…Efren sure was quick to fire her (even though legally he couldn’t)…”

    Efren didn’t fire her, the Board of Supervisors fired her. And a court has ruled that they did in fact have the right to fire her.”

    It’s one thing for a public official to get a DUI; another to flee the scene, forcing the CHP to rely on techniques more often seen at the rodeo.

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  17. Ola Rose says:

    To say to the youth that he is a great example after beating someone unconscious who was using verbal insults is ludicrous and shows a lack of integrity and gives our youth a mixed message. No mention of any alcohol sobriety tests? I don’t feel well represented in the 5th district by Effren in the first place and now this. Anyone can make a mistake, but our elected officials have an extra duty to be honest, virtuous and incorruptible, that’s why we elect them to look up to as an example…lol.

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  18. Joseph says:

    I love all the cameras in the gaslamp district of downtown San Diego. It is a hoot when a Perp says one thing in court, they ask him if he is sure, the perp says yes, and then they play the tape. Priceless reaction every time.

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  19. Tony says:

    Fact is saint Petersburg is a heck of a party place….. ????

    I should know….. only a couple reasons to go to St. P….. your eather mobbed up or… or you go for the night life …. or both….???

    St. P. Has many places to club and entertain with women of the night….???

    Russians are so corrupt…. he must have been right at home…..out on the town…???

    I want to know who paid for the trip …. tax payers….????

    I’m sure it was all politics…. ;)~

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  20. James Robinson says:

    Where are these “ladies” whose honor was being defended against the “rowdies”? How come none of them have come forward to say thanks or even corroborate the story? Smells fishy….

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  21. Duuuhhhhh says:

    Dick Tracy, Pack of Strays hits the nail on the head. The only facts Efren Carrillo knew when he led the charge to fire former Ag Commissioner Cathy Neville was that she had been stopped for an alleged DUI. That didn’t sway him from going out full force to get rid of her because of it. According to the police, they personally observed enough to arrest him. The “alleged” victim was briefly unconscious, and couldn’t/wouldn’t speak to the press yet becuase of the pain medication he was on. From being knocked unconscious. By a hot headed black belt. Who has to “protect” his flock of ladies like every other gang-banger out there. WE don’t know, that’s for sure, but Efren “Macho Camacho” Carrillo does, and he’s gone silencio todo! Yep, as other people have noted, isn’t it great that he shouldn’t be/doesn’t want to be/doesn’t FEEL he should be, judged by the same standards HE uses??? Aye, dios mio, can you smell the toro?

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  22. Robert says:

    This is Sonoma County at it’s best. “His people comments” show the racism. “No violence at any cost” shows the cowardice. “Out at 2am” shows the high moral attitude with no concept of society. “Guilty and the facts don’t matter”, shows a mixture of it all. There is enough in the infromation to know a person was arrested, at a time, and a person was knocked unconcious. Everything else is biased opinion speculation. However it really does expose most the posters for what what they are and how they think. Keep it up, your social value is astonishing, just ask you.

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  23. Dick Tracy says:

    The only facts we know are that there was an altercation late at night, that one man was unconscious, and that two men were arrested, one of them Efren Carrillo. We DON’T KNOW if there were other combatants; we DON’T KNOW whether the provocation was verbal or physical; we DON’T KNOW whether the victim was knocked out or passed out from drink; we don’t even KNOW whether Efren threw a punch that hit the “victim.”

    I swear, if I am ever in trial, the first question I will have asked of prospective jurors will be, “have you ever posted to “politics” in the PD?” If so, have a nice day–you’re all crazy.

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  24. GAJ says:

    I’m no Carrillo fan, but the headline is completely misleading the “Carillo Refuses to talk about arrest.”

    From the story:

    “…he plans on giving a “full report” about the incident toward the beginning of this week.”

    We’ll have to wait and see if he follows through on that promise.

    At this point it seems that no charges will be filed but I’m sure his lawyer has told him to remain tight lipped until that decision is made in San Diego.

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  25. Lets be Reasonable says:

    You guys mostly seem to have already convicted him. Why don’t we just wait until (and if) a real jury decides?

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  26. Joyce Garcia says:

    It’s up to the voters to vett our candidates not only on their ability to preform the job, but on the CONTENT OF THEIR CHARACTER!

    Thumb up 37 Thumb down 6

  27. joe right says:

    Anything you say can and will be used against you.
    Not saying anything is the smart thing to do. Let the facts
    play out.

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  28. Absurd comment says:

    “When people elect a single, 31-year-old man, they need to understand there’s probably some socializing that goes along with that,” Reilly said. “Folks are willing to take that into account with all of the positives they get out of the deal as well.”

    There is a tremendous difference between a 31-year-old man who socializes, a 31-year-old elected official, and a 31-year-old elected official who resorts to violence and lands someone in the hospital. I don’t care if he was with some “ladies” out at 2 AM and some “rowdies” shouted, etc. The question is, was violence the only way to solve the issue? Did the “rowdies” throw the first punch? Was it impossible for Carrillo to avoid the conflict? I am highly skeptical that this is not simply a machismo pride issue. Was Carrillo trying to impress the “ladies” or was he truly acting in their defense? Would love to see the video, but we probably never will. Unless this truly was a measure taken to protect someone from a direct act of violence, which is very hard to believe given it happened just outside a bar where they all could have sought assistance from a bouncer or had the police called, it’s absolutely inexcusable and those claiming he’s a hero are simply lowering expectations as to how civilized people should behave, especially elected officials. Violence is ONLY justified as a last means of self defense and so far, I’m just not seeing the evidence for that, especially given his hands being legally “lethal weapons”.

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  29. R.B. Fish says:

    This is classic political hypocrisy and I am sure, besides the Democratic godfathers, there is a PR person behind saying “just let it blow over.” I would suggest if he is a truthful, honest, moral representative for the public interest that Carrillo himself, sponsored by the Democratic Party funded but the all the unions have Carrillo do an neutral third party interview stating the facts of the situation and why he responded the way he did in a provocative social situation. Let democracy come forth so taxpayers can decide to re-elect him.

    Oops…you thought you were in America didn’t you. It may have been a bad moment and poor decision for Carrillo which, we are all guilty of, but a public official needs to be truthful so we have confidence in their decision making. Carrillo thus far has failed and he should fire his PR firm. PR people believe the public is too stupid and ignorant which is true because they are. However, they are playing the re-election card and a close competitor could win over this issue in future contests. People do not like being cheated but are very forgiving when people are truthful and, even adversaries will find it very difficult and likely drop the attack ball in future election contests . It’s what we deserve and pay for.
    If he wants to play hardball that’s OK too. Additionally he paints a black cultural cloud.

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  30. Joseph says:

    I agree it is a shame he is so arrogant, for it will truly limit what he might otherwise be able to accomplish. Most people after their first arrest I would tell do not let it ruin your life. I do not know if he would take such advise to heart and change his ways. Time alone will tell.

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  31. Pack of Strays says:

    Isn’t it time for these Supervisors to have a Code of Conduct put in place? For exactly this reason. A Supervisor committed a really stupid crime.

    And here’s another little thing to make you go hmm…Unlike when Cathy Neville got her DUI and hadn’t even gone to court, and Efren sure was quick to fire her (even though legally he couldn’t). Now why isn’t someone doing exactly the same thing to him.

    Is it because he’s a man? I would hate to think this County treats women differently then men.

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  32. Doodles says:

    “An example to follow for all our youth?” Hardly.

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  33. jenny says:

    a policeman and an elected official is required even when off the clock to uphold himself to a manner suitable for his position. he is obviously not mature enough to remain in thsi position. it has become an embarrassment to our county. here we are in contract negotiations, he is making what? $180,000 a year? and he’s out at a club at 2 am in some fist fight knocking some dude unconscious? and he’s deciding what happens to us? uh uh. he should be on unpaid administrative leave period. my job is way less important and I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t be able to get away with that.

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  34. Example says:

    Let’s see how long it takes for him to show up at Christys, Chrome or Society downtown!!!

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  35. Sharpshooter says:

    Get rid of this jerk ! I understand “his people” voted him back in to his position and I’m not surprised. He has the backing of the wine industry that employs “his people”. If he was a white Sheriff in San Francisco that grabbed his wife’s arm in a heated arguement he would have been bashed and slapped around big time. Instead, his followers call him gallant for protecting his women. What morons. He started out as a budding scumbag politicion and now has gone into full arrogant bloom. Have anyone of you been to a County Supervisors meeting ? I have and they are pathetic. All of the Supervisors think that they are royalty. Remember, they all work for us. First Carillo then the rest. I am ashamed of being represented in the 5th district by him.

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  36. Max Factor says:

    Efren: whatever else is true, don’t you think you should take a shave? Would you go to court with a half-grown beard?

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  37. Camino Alto says:

    These are not the actions of an innocent man. Let alone an innocent public figure. I just hope that the whole REAL truth comes out and justice is served if need be.

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