California

Man who found police chief’s gun should face felony charges, SLOPD tells DA

SLO police chief apologizes for ‘carelessness’ of leaving gun in bathroom

San Luis Obispo, California, Police Chief Deanna Cantrell apologizes after she left her gun in the bathroom at El Pollo Loco restaurant.
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San Luis Obispo, California, Police Chief Deanna Cantrell apologizes after she left her gun in the bathroom at El Pollo Loco restaurant.

The San Luis Obispo Police Department is asking the District Attorney’s Office to file felony charges against a Los Osos man who picked up the chief’s gun after it was left behind in an El Pollo Loco bathroom last month.

District Attorney Dan Dow confirmed Tuesday that the Police Department completed its investigation into 30-year-old Skeeter Mangan’s taking of Chief Deanna Cantrell’s handgun July 10 and forwarded its findings to the DA’s Office.

Dow said the Police Department is requesting that his office file charges of grand theft of a firearm, possessing a loaded firearm in a public place, and burglary, each of which can be charged as felonies.

Only the District Attorney’s Office has the ability to charge a defendant in court, and it is standard procedure for law enforcement to forward its findings to prosecutors when a criminal investigation is complete.

The District Attorney’s Office has the option to file no charges if it believes they cannot be proven to a jury beyond a reasonable doubt.

If Mangan is charged and ultimately convicted, it’s unclear what penalty he might face.

“The District Attorney’s Office is obligated under law to review this investigation, and all of the evidence contained in the investigation, in order to make a determination of whether a crime was committed and whether there is sufficient evidence to prove the crime, and if so, whether it would be in the interest of justice to pursue charges,” Dow wrote in an emailed statement. “As in every case, Mr. Mangan is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty in a court of law by proof beyond a reasonable doubt.”

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San Luis Obispo Police Department’s request for criminal charges against Skeeter Mangan. SLO DA's Office

Dow did not give an estimate for how long his office’s review might take.

Mangan could not immediately be reached for comment Tuesday afternoon.

Brother-in-law’s explanation

In a statement to KSBY-TV, Mangan’s brother-in-law, Sean Greenwood, wrote that Mangan has mental disabilities.

Greenwood wrote that after he saw a photo of Mangan put out by the Police Department, he went to Mangan’s home, where he lives with his father.

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SLO Police Chief Deanna Cantrell reported leaving her gun behind in a bathroom stall at El Pollo Loco on July 10. The gun has been recovered after a Los Osos man, Skeeter Carlos Mangan, turned it in. Mangan is pictured in this surveillance image. Courtesy photo

“I unloaded and completely disassembled the firearm. I spoke with Skeeter about the situation. He stated he wanted to get it back to the owner but didn’t know how. He removed the pistol from the restroom and went home, where he placed (it) in a drawer,” Greenwood said in the statement.

“To understand Skeeter’s actions, you have to understand Skeeter’s mental health state. … He is an extremely shy and quiet man, and for him, verbalizing is difficult,” he continues. “Because Skeeter, for the most part, is nonverbal, speaking with friends and family, holding a job and expressing his thoughts is an everyday struggle. He doesn’t have a cell phone or computer, nor does he have social media.”

Greenwood said that once Mangan learned whose gun it was, he told Greenwood he wanted to bring it into the “cop shop.”

“I explained to him it would be better if I gave him a ride and helped him to explain to the detectives the situation, rather than him riding his mode of transportation, a scooter,” Greenwood wrote, according to KSBY-TV.

Mangan, who turned in the firearm July 11, allegedly told police he found the gun and put it in his pocket before returning home to Los Osos, the Police Department previously said in a public statement.

According to the department, Mangan’s brother-in-law called the Sheriff’s Office to report that Mangan had the gun, and they returned it to the sheriff’s substation in Los Osos.

San Luis Obispo police officials went to Los Osos and interviewed Mangan about the incident, the department’s press release said.

Capt. Chris Staley previously told The Tribune that the department would consider whether Mangan could be charged with an offense such as being in possession of a stolen firearm.

However, Staley also said that after questioning Mangan, the department’s investigators determined the gun wasn’t used for any improper activities.

Cantrell issued a public apology over the incident, saying it will “never happen again,” and received a one-time pay reduction of about $1,600. She also must receive firearm safety training and is required to discuss lessons learned with all members of the city’s Police Department.

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A redacted page from San Luis Obispo Police Department’s investigation. SLO DA's Office

Update on arrested couple’s case

In a separate criminal case that was bred out of the lost gun debacle, a married couple who live just outside the San Luis Obispo city limits was arrested on the night of July 10 as San Luis Obispo police detectives were hunting down the chief’s gun.

According to the city, a tip from a Morro Bay police officer misidentified Cheyne Orndoff as Mangan, and due to an error in the criminal records database, detectives Jason Dickel and Suzie Walsh believed that Orndoff was on probation and a warrant wasn’t required to search his residence.

Orndoff and his wife Vanessa Bedroni were arrested and charged with felony child endangerment as a result of that police visit. Even though the detectives believed they could search Orndoff’s home without a warrant, the city says that evidence of dangerous conditions for their two children were visible from outside the front door.

Deputy District Attorney Phillip Joo cited needles and methamphetamine in his argument against modifying a protective order in a recent court hearing. Judge Tim Covello granted a modification in a hearing held Tuesday, but the details were not specificied as lawyers discussed that issue in the judge’s chambers, not in open court.

The couple’s children were taken into the custody of Child Protective Services.

At an Aug. 6 court hearing, a prosecutor said in court that an unspecified amount of methamphetamine was discovered in the search of the home.

Both Orndoff and Bedroni have pleaded not guilty and were in court Tuesday to discuss visitation with their children.

Orndoff declined comment Tuesday.

The couple is due back in court Aug. 27.

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Matt Fountain is The San Luis Obispo Tribune’s courts and investigations reporter. A San Diego native, Fountain graduated from Cal Poly’s journalism department in 2009 and cut his teeth at the San Luis Obispo New Times before joining The Tribune as a crime and breaking news reporter in 2014.
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