By JULIE JOHNSON
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
Two weeks after Sonoma County Supervisor Efren Carrillo was arraigned on a misdemeanor peeking charge, Santa Rosa Police Chief Tom Schwedhelm again declined to release copies or transcripts of the two 911 phone calls related to the incident.
A woman called police twice before dawn on a weekend in July to report a shirtless man tried to get into her bedroom window and then knocked on her front door. Police found Carrillo nearby, wearing only his socks and underwear, and arrested the two-term supervisor on suspicion of prowling and felony burglary, stating they suspected the supervisor intended to commit some type of sexual assault.
Prosecutors, however, decided to file a lesser charge against Carrillo, who faces a barrage of criticism from opponents who say the embattled supervisor is no longer fit for office.
Schwedhelm said that police have already provided key details of their investigation and that releasing any additional information, including the recordings, doesn’t serve the court process.
“The case hasn’t been prosecuted yet,” Schwedhelm said Thursday. “We want to keep the integrity of the investigation intact. Once it is adjudicated that might be a different story.”
The tapes could reveal details of the pre-dawn encounter and provide context for police officers’ decision to arrest Carrillo on suspicion of a felony rather than a misdemeanor.
Schwedhelm said the Police Department will defer to the Napa prosecutor assigned to handle the case, who is working under the supervision of the state Attorney General’s Office, to decide whether to release the 911 recordings to the public.
“That decision would rest with prosecutor’s office; we wouldn’t do anything to damage the investigation,” Schwedhelm said. “We’re on the prosecution team and I’d be very surprised if the prosecutor would release it.”
Cody Hunt, the Napa prosecutor, deferred the question to the Attorney General’s Office.
“The answer is no, we’re not releasing the tapes,” Nick Pacilio, a spokesman for the Attorney General’s Office, said Friday. He would not answer questions about why the tapes were being withheld.
“That’s the decision our office has made,” he said. “Right now, I can’t be more specific.”
Carrillo did not enter a plea during his Nov. 1 arraignment and no settlement offer was extended at the time. Negotiations with the prosecution and defense, as well as the woman’s attorney, were expected to take place before the next hearing on Dec. 13.
Hunt would not comment on whether he had entered negotiations with Carrillo’s attorney, Chris Andrian, who could not be reached late Friday.
Schwedhelm said he was not disappointed by the disparity between the misdemeanor charge Carrillo now faces with the more serious crimes discussed at the time of his arrest. Legal experts had predicted prosecutors would be hard-pressed to move forward with a felony burglary charge against Carrillo, given the burden of proof to convince a jury of the supervisor’s intent at the time.
Yet Schwedhelm also defended the arresting charges as appropriate, and noted the different standards of proof faced by officers in the field and prosecutors in the courtroom.
He called the disparity a fairly common occurrence in law enforcement.
“A person gets arrested for crime A and gets charged with crime B,” Schwedhelm said.
“They are different thresholds, (and) I’m very confident that the officers (in Carrillo’s case) had probable cause to make the arrest,” he said.
(Staff Writer Brett Wilkison contributed to this story. You can reach Staff Writer Julie Johnson at 521-5220 or firstname.lastname@example.org.)