By PAUL PAYNE AND JEREMY HAY
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
Sonoma County Supervisor Efren Carrillo will not face felony charges in connection with his arrest after a downtown San Diego street fight, police said Monday.
San Diego Police Detective Gary Hassen said his captain has deemed the case a misdemeanor that would be handled by the city attorney rather than the San Diego district attorney. Police also could decide to recommend no charges. A final decision will come sometime this week, Hassen said.
At the time of his arrest on Labor Day, Carrillo was jailed on suspicion of felony battery. Local authorities have refused to release a booking photo.
After news of his arrest was first reported Wednesday, Carrillo released a brief statement and then went silent. He left the next day for Russia on a group trip to explore the history of Russian settlers on the North Coast.
Carrillo was unavailable for comment Monday. He is due to return Friday from Russia.
Carrillo, 31, was picked up shortly after 2 a.m. Sept. 3 after a fight broke out involving him and two other men on a street in San Diego’s popular Gaslamp Quarter.
The man identified by police as the victim, Jovan Will, 31, of Mesa, Ariz., was found unconscious and hospitalized briefly. He has declined comment.
Hassen said Will was on pain medication when contacted by investigators and was unable to decide if he wanted to press charges against Carrillo.
Former west county Supervisor Eric Koenigshofer, a close political supporter of Carrillo’s, said the two spoke before the statement was released and he advised Carrillo to say nothing further because the legal process and investigation were under way and beyond his control.
“There wasn’t anything he could do between the incident and when he had to leave (for Russia) other than to issue a clear, concise statement that briefly answered the question of what happened,” said Koenigshofer, who is an attorney but is not representing Carrillo in this matter.
Koenigshofer said that when they spoke, Carrillo was “very upset because the incident occurred and he was basically embarrassed about what would inevitably be the kind of coverage. And he expressed great interest that the facts should get out.”
In his statement, Carrillo said he was on a personal trip and socializing with friends who included women that “rowdies” started to harass.
“I stepped in to protect them,” he said.
A police spokeswoman said witnesses to the fight included women who said they were with Carrillo, who was released the day of his arrest after posting $10,000 bail.
Investigators are expected to reach out to Will again today to determine if he wants to go forward with prosecution, Hassen said.
“We’re waiting to see what the victim wants to do on this one,” Hassen said.
Carrillo and another suspect, Rayan Jastanyah, 22, of San Diego, who could not be located for an interview, initially were booked on suspicion of felony battery causing great bodily injury and misdemeanor disturbing the peace. Police and San Diego County Jail officials have declined to release Carrillo’s booking photo.
No additional details have emerged about Carrillo’s trip to San Diego or the 2:10 a.m. incident, which took place on bustling Fourth Avenue, lined with restaurants and bars, a pricey nightclub, an art gallery and a residential hotel.
Late-night disturbances of the sort Carrillo apparently was involved in are not entirely uncommon as hundreds of patrons, who often have been drinking, are discharged into the night as bars close, said restaurant employees in the area.
Carrillo was not tested for alcohol or drugs, San Diego Police Lt. Andra Brown said, and Koenigshofer said he did not know whether Carrillo had been drinking.
“I suppose there are some people in our community who in their 20s and early 30s never went out to nightclubs with their friends or never drank,” he said, “but probably and in my experience, it’s not an unusual thing and it’s not illegal. So if he had been drinking, it wouldn’t be surprising.”
Susan Upchurch, Carrillo’s district aide, said Monday she had taken calls from “less than 20″ constituents and “most have been very supportive.”
Asked for further details, she said: “I’m a county employee and I have a very busy job trying to serve the constituents of the district. This is a personal matter and I’m not involved in it, other than answering calls about it.”
You can reach Staff Writer Paul Payne at 568-5312 or email@example.com.
You can reach Staff Writer Jeremy Hay at 521-5212 or firstname.lastname@example.org.