By PAUL PAYNE
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
Sonoma County Supervisor Efren Carrillo was arrested in San Diego on Labor Day after an early morning fight outside a popular nightclub that left one man unconscious.
Carrillo, 31, was booked on charges of battery causing serious injury, a felony, and disturbing the peace, a misdemeanor, San Diego police Lt. Andra Brown said.
Carrillo was released Monday after posting $10,000 bail, according to the San Diego County jail.
He refused to return repeated phone calls seeking comment Wednesday and his aide said Carrillo would not discuss his arrest until he returns from a trip abroad in nearly two weeks.
The fight broke out at 2:10 a.m. Monday on a street in the city’s Gaslamp District, a bustling downtown area crowded with bars and restaurants.
Carrillo issued a written statement Wednesday saying he was protecting female friends who were being harassed by “rowdies” when he stepped in to defend them.
“I was in San Diego for Labor Day weekend on my own personal business. I was socializing with a group of friends when rowdies approached our group and harassed women in our group. I stepped in to protect them. I’m anxious to tell my side of the story during legal proceedings,” according to the statement.
Prosecutors have not determined if they will file charges, said Steve Walker, a spokesman for the San Diego County district attorney.
His arraignment is set for Oct. 15.
Carrillo was scheduled to depart this morning on a long-planned trip to Russia with a 23-member delegation from Fort Ross State Historic Park. He will not make himself available to discuss the incident until he returns for the Sept. 18 Board of Supervisors meeting, said Susan Upchurch, his district director.
“It is a legal matter. He has issued a written statement,” she said.
Fellow supervisors said Carrillo had not discussed the incident with them Wednesday.
“I have not spoken to Efren since last week. I understand his office has issued a statement,” said Shirlee Zane, chairwoman of the Board of Supervisors.
Valerie Brown, who has been on a two-week trip to Missouri, said she learned about it when she received an email press release from Carrillo on Wednesday. She also had not spoken to Carrillo.
“I just found out about it today,” Brown said. “I didn’t even know he’d gone to San Diego.”
Supervisor David Rabbitt said he hadn’t spoken to Carrillo about the incident but expressed his support.
“I don’t know the facts, but I’m supportive of Efren as a friend and a colleague and hopefully it will adjudicate itself out and the truth will come out as he moves forward,” Rabbitt said. “I think it’s safe to say, that he feels a certain disappointment just having to go through the circumstances.”
Supervisor Mike McGuire also hadn’t spoken to Carrillo.
“Efren is one of the hardest working people in local government. All I know is what I read in the newspaper and I think it’s a mistake to speak on the issues until the legal process is concluded,” McGuire said.
Carrillo briefly returned to Sonoma County after he was released, appearing in public Tuesday night at the Sebastopol City Council meeting. He addressed the council during a program presented by the Sonoma County Water Agency on a proposal to create a public agency to purchase power for Sonoma County and its cities.
Carrillo’s father, Efren Carrillo Sr., said his son had spoken only briefly about the incident, describing it as an “altercation” that involved several people.
“He’s not too happy with whatever happened,” Carrillo Sr. said, adding, “I support him. He’s human.”
Former Santa Rosa Congressman Doug Bosco, a supporter, said he called Carrillo about the incident Wednesday. Carrillo told him he was with friends when people came along and “started giving him some trouble,” Bosco said.
Carrillo, who earned a black belt in Taekwondo as a teenager and trained in other disciplines of the martial arts, apparently responded, Bosco said.
“It was one of those things that happened quickly,” Bosco said. “He feels he was totally within his rights. He doesn’t like the thought of hurting anyone but he was provoked and did what he needed to do.”
The fight erupted shortly after closing time outside Fluxx, a downtown San Diego nightclub where Oakland rapper Too $hort had performed earlier that evening. The nightspot has become a fixture on the city’s celebrity circuit, with photos of visiting stars such as Ashton Kutcher, LeBron James, Snoop Dogg, Usher and Pamela Anderson featured on its website.
Brown said the fight was not linked to a specific establishment, but the police report listed the nightclub’s Fourth Avenue address as the location of the altercation.
“Officers rolled up on a fight and through witness statements and their own observations determined that Mr. Carrillo and the other subject had committed a crime,” Brown said.
Rayan Jastanyah, 22, of San Diego, was arrested on the same charges as Carrillo, Brown said.
The victim, Jovan Will, 30, of Mesa, Ariz., was treated and released from a San Diego hospital. He declined comment Wednesday evening when reached at his home.
The arrest poses both legal and political consequences. If Carrillo is found to have used excessive force in response to verbal harassment he could be guilty of a serious offense, Santa Rosa defense attorney Stephen Turer said.
If he was responding to a physical threat that would be different, Turer said.
“Words alone do not justify a physical response under the law,” Turer said.
But perhaps the biggest question was the political fallout for the popular young politician, who was first elected to represent the Fifth District in 2008 and easily won a second term in the June primary.
Andy Merrifield, professor of political science at Sonoma State University, said the details of the fight as well as any formal charges would determine any lasting impact.
“Obviously it’s not a good thing, but let’s see how it plays out,” Merrifield said. “I’d say it’s not fatal at this point, politically.”
Staff Writer Jeremy Hay and News Researcher Janet Balicki contributed to this story.