By BRETT WILKISON
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
Sonoma County Supervisor Efren Carrillo said Tuesday he was “pleased” that the criminal case against him stemming from a Labor Day street fight in San Diego had been dropped by prosecutors.
He responded to questions for the first time during an eight-minute interview on Tuesday, but provided few other details about the altercation, including any more clarity about who delivered a blow that knocked a man unconscious.
“All I can say is I’m pleased with the decision,” Carrillo said between sessions of the Board of Supervisors meeting. He thanked San Diego police and prosecutors, calling their investigation “thorough.”
Prosecutors determined there was insufficient evidence to charge Carrillo, a decision announced Monday by a spokeswoman for the San Diego City Attorney. Carrillo, who was traveling out of the area, could not be reached for his reaction until Tuesday morning.
The 31-year-old supervisor faced misdemeanor battery and disturbing the peace allegations in connection with the fight outside a popular nightclub in the city’s Gaslamp Quarter.
For more than a month, Carrillo has remained tight-lipped about the altercation and his 2:10 a.m. arrest, offering only a pair of written statements.
On Tuesday, he echoed those written statements in a brief interview, saying they constituted a “full explanation of what occurred in the incident.”
He suggested those accounts, released two days and more than two weeks after his arrest, respectively, should have sufficed for constituents in his west county district who said he owed them a clearer and quicker explanation.
“The statements were true and correct,” Carrillo said. “I submitted those statements as fast as I could, given the nature of the incident.”
The second account, issued Sept. 19, reinforced Carrillo’s initial statement that he’d come to the aid of female friends he claimed were being verbally and physically harassed by a stranger. He identified the man as 22-year-old San Diego resident Rayan Jastaniyah, who police also arrested in the fight.
Carrillo added no new details about his confrontation with Jastaniyah during Tuesday’s interview and was guarded about saying much more about that night out with friends. They included his college roommate and three women who dined together and then visited Fluxx nightclub, where Oakland rapper Too $hort was performing.
Carrillo said the fight began as he had previously described.
“I was pretty clear in my recollection of events … that the original altercation began with Jastaniyah accosting the young ladies and that the incident went from the sidewalk and carried out into the street, when other folks jumped in,” Carrillo said.
Among those in the crowd, he said, “I did not see the man who was sent to the hospital. . . . I could sense not only folks in front of me but behind me. So I do not know who struck this man. I do know it was not me.”
Police have identified the injured man as 30-year-old Jovan Will of Mesa, Ariz. He has declined to comment on the fight. San Diego police have not said who they suspect hit him.
A spokeswoman for the San Diego City Attorney’s Office said it dropped the case against Carrillo “because there were conflicting accounts of what occurred and insufficient evidence to prove a case beyond a reasonable doubt.”
When Carrillo was arrested, he was booked on suspicion of battery causing serious injury, a felony. But police officials later deemed the case a misdemeanor.
The case against Jastaniyah, including a misdemeanor allegation of disturbing the peace, was also dropped by prosecutors.
Police officials have declined to release other details relating to their investigation.
“The city attorney received the case,” said San Diego Lt. Andra Brown, a department spokeswoman. “If they determined they’re not going forward with the case, it’s a moot point. . . . The case is dead.”
The Press Democrat asked Carrillo for a copy of the statement he gave police the day of his arrest. He said he did not have access to it and that it was “essentially” the same account he gave to the public.
Carrillo was in San Diego on what he has described as a “mini-vacation” with three friends from Sonoma County. It started with a drive down from Sonoma County to San Diego on Friday, Aug. 31, in a rental car and ended with the return trip on Labor Day, after Carrillo had posted $10,000 bail. He was in police custody for about 10 hours and was released from jail around noon.
Asked if the incident had caused him to reflect on how he spends his personal time outside of county business, Carrillo declined to comment
He would not speculate on how the incident might impact his political future. Re-elected to a second term in June, Carrillo has been seen as a promising young politician with roots in the local Latino community and a growing network of backers statewide.
Asked whether a cloud could hang over his political prospects, Carrillo answered with a full-throated insistence that his arrest had not interfered with his county duties.
“Not once did I stop working hard and representing my constituency,” he said. “Even from (the date of) this incident I’ve continued to do my work and do it with the strongest work ethic that I have. And I’m going to continue to do that.”
You can reach Staff Writer Brett Wilkison at 521-5295 or email@example.com.