Black crowned night heron © Robert Sommers 2023

Thursday, July 2, 2009


The national and local media is atwitter over the behavior of the San Diego County Sheriff's Department during the recent Francine Busby fundraiser in Encinitas. Sheriff's Deputy Marshall Abbott, sensing danger from a kitchen full of geritol swilling septuagenarians, let loose with his tear gas and allegedly physically abused a dangerous pack of senior citizens.

Busby, a recent candidate for Congress, had two strikes against her in Republican North San Diego County: She is a Democrat and her hosts were, gasp, a lesbian couple. Can you imagine the fear in the officer's eyes when he drove up to the compound and saw all of those volvo station wagons with the coexist bumper stickers?

The Department is now hunkered down in no comment mode. Their spokesman cautioned yesterday against believing "media reports". What is understood is that apparently someone had been heckling the gathering all night. Suspicions are that he called the gendarmes who came barreling in en masse with squad cars, a k-9 unit and a helicopter. Surely more than enough firepower to track down a few raving liberals? The gay republican District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis is surely in a bit of a conundrum deciding who to charge on this one.

As Busby spoke to the crowd through a public address system, a man hidden behind trees and bushes on a neighboring lot started to shout obscenities and insults about her policies, said four people who attended the party. The profanity-laced invective went on for several minutes before one of Busby's supporters decided to shout back, Busby said. "Somebody yelled back at him. Whoever he was, he was hidden in the bushes, we couldn't see him," Busby said. Many believe that the whole raid had been set up from the start, an act of political sabotage. Law enforcement refuses to release the identity of the person making the noise complaint or a tape recording of the conversation. The Sheriff's Department accuses Busby of failing to show appropriate leadership.

Shari Barman, the property owner, was arrested and is waiting to see if she will be charged. Guests say that Deputy Abbott entered the home without invitation, and then pulled Barman to the ground after she refused to give him her birthdate. “It was a private, quiet party,” Busby said. “I can't reiterate enough that there was never any noise." Busby said she heard that the caller described “a Democratic rally or demonstration,” which wasn't accurate. Busby has twice lost to Congressman Brian Bilbray in the 50th district.

We have had more than our share of these kind of stories in San Diego and Southern California the past several years and pardon me if, yawn, I tell you how they always end up. The deputy will be completely exonerated. The Los Angeles Cops Riot verdict just came in - they weren't trained properly, no one will be fired. Officer White can shoot into a car and hit a child after a traffic altercation - acquitted. Steve Foley gets followed home by a rookie Coronado cop and gets shot in his yard - no problem.

The reality is that cops always circle the wagons and protect their own in these investigations. My late detective friend Frank once told me that cops group the world into two classes, cops and criminals.

We were talking about the case at dinner with friends last night and our friend Connie commented that she had read an article that shined a light on abusive cop behavior. The first job they get is at the jail. They are conditioned from the start to see the worst in criminal behavior and see themselves as the last line between society and the "perps". I watched a youtube recently where a cop tasers a 75 year old woman for a traffic violation and have seen similar overreaction myself.

Being a law enforcement officer can't be an easy job and they are easy to second guess. But you have to wonder at the real reason for the draconian show of force in Cardiff.


Sanoguy said...

I had a run in with a SD County Deputy about 1 1/2 years ago in Encinitas which I was reminded about after hearing the Busby story. I unknowingly made an illegal right turn and a Deputy was standing there handing out tickets as people made the turn. The no-right turn was poorly marked and the Sheriff's Dept. and the City of Encinitas knew it. They had the Deputy standing there handing out tickets like candy. He was very rude, impolite and he was yelling. He did not need to yell. I told him, after he gave me the ticket, that I was a retired Fire Captain and that he was the rudest officer I had ever seen and that I planned to write a letter of complaint to Sheriff Kolender. He said to go ahead and write the letter and that he had the entire encounter on tape. He did not use the pepper spray.

I wrote the letter and about two weeks later I received a reply from a Captain in the Encinitas Sheriff's office. He had heard the tape and agreed with me. He said that they did several hours of training with the Deputy. He offered an apology.

I also wrote a letter of complaint about the poorly marked right turn to the Mayor and City Manager. I have never heard from them and the poorly marked no-right turn still exists. By the time I got done paying the ticket and traffic school, I had spent about $250.

Sometimes, the officers get amped up when they don't need to. I think they often are on a razors edge waiting for a true emergency. Some just don't have the interpersonal skills or the judgement to deal with stressful situations.

Blue Heron said...

Was that the right on Santa Fe and Vulcan that I got nailed on?

Sanoguy said...

No, it was off of 101 at the north end of Encinitas. I can't remember the name of the side street. I was down checking out the mid-December Big Wednesday surf. I had checked out Beacons and was heading south to Swami's. The traffic was heavy on the Highway so I took the right turn to get off of 101 and head down a side street. I saw the guy give at least 3 tickets in a row. I was pissed!!!

Anonymous said...

Finding this info years later…idk if anyone will see this, but can we guess what happened to this deputy? He was cleared of any wrong doing even while the county awarded 1.2 million to those he violated, and he is now stationed at a HIGH SCHOOL in Poway as. SRO.

Blue Heron said...

I appreciate your comment and keeping up with the whereabouts of this guy.