An Imperial County personnel board has revoked a disciplinary suspension imposed on Deputy Probation Officer Jaime Duron over the shooting of a dog during a multijurisdictional task force operation. The Employment Appeals Board dismissed the 10-day suspension after Duron demonstrated the employer’s case-in-chief was so flawed the discipline could not be sustained.
On May 30, 2010, while serving a restitution notice as part of the “Stonegarden” multijurisdictional task force, Duron and his partner were attacked by a dog. Duron shot the dog to protect himself and other officers. At the time, Duron was not wearing his Department-issued body armor.
An Imperial County Probation Department Shooting Inquiry Board determined the shooting was justified. The Board issued findings Duron did not violate any laws or Departmental policies during the shooting and justified his use of force.
But several minutes after the Shooting Inquiry Board adjourned, Chief Deputy Probation Officer Pete Salgado went back to his office and changed his mind. He provided a dissenting opinion which noted it would have been a “safer shooting” had Duron been wearing his body armor.
Chief Probation Officer Martin Krizay, who later resigned amidst allegations of committing unfair labor practices, concluded Duron should have worn his body armor pursuant to Department policy. Krizay’s conclusion was based on improper findings by Gloria Munoz-Brunswick, the Internal Affairs Investigator who made those findings even though the Department’s own policy did not require the use of body armor during service of a restitution notice.
Chief Krizay imposed a 10-day suspension on Duron for failing to wear his body armor, allegedly in violation of the County’s policy. Krizay was unavailable for the hearing, so Salgado and Munoz-Brunswick testified regarding the investigation and suspension. From the opening statements on, Duron’s defense emphasized the weakness of the County’s case.
The Imperial County Probation Department’s Procedures Manual states, “All officers are mandated to wear protective body armor (vest) and [a] utility belt when doing any type of enforcement activity ([e.g.,] searching residences or making an arrest in the field).”
The service of a civil restitution notice is not a search of a residence or an arrest in the field. Therefore, on its face the policy could not have been violated. Undeterred by the policy and the facts supporting Duron’s exoneration, the Department attempted to support a violation of the policy by arguing a different set of policies applied to the Stonegarden assignment.
The County’s witnesses asserted the Stonegarden assignment required body armor because of an operations plan for the assignment indicating body armor would be required for all probation officers. However, the County failed to recall Duron was the supervisor who authored the operations plan. Duron explained probation officers asked him about the body armor requirement in the operations plan. He explained to the other probation officers this directive was intended to remind the officers of the County’s body armor policy and was not an attempt to create a new policy which would require body armor at all times.
Faced with unfavorable facts, the County abandoned its initial position and argued service of restitution notices is per se an enforcement activity.
Witnesses from the Department’s administration testified that the service of restitution notices are enforcement activities and therefore require body armor. Witnesses for the Department went so far as to attempt to interpret the policy to read, “All officers are mandated to wear protective body armor (vest) and [a] utility belt when in the field.”
By changing “enforcement activity” to “in the field” in her testimony, Administration Representative Gloria Munoz-Brunswick attempted to mislead the Employment Appeals Board to believe the body armor is required any time the probation officers are in the field, not just when engaged in enforcement activities.
This argument backfired on the County when a Department witness testified, on cross-examination, that at the time of the investigation he regularly served restitution notices without body armor. Interestingly, this witness is not a probation officer and was not issued body armor, and his possession of body armor is questionably illegal because he is not a peace officer. Nonetheless, the Department regularly sent him into the field without body armor to serve restitution notices, just as Duron and his partner were serving at the time of the shooting.
One of the pages in the Stonegarden operations plan included a list of 10 objectives. A County witness testified that with the exception of report writing, each of the 10 items described in the plan was enforcement activity, including restitution contacts.
But on cross-examination, the witness was asked about a second list of items on the bottom of the same page. The list at the bottom of the page identifies, from the list of 10, which items are enforcement details. Warrants and Fourth Amendment waiver compliance checks were the only two activities from the list of 10 possible Stonegarden activities identified as enforcement. Confronted with the obvious inconsistency between his own testimony and the evidence provided by the County, the witness was literally speechless.
This document was never made available to Duron or his attorney prior to the evidentiary hearing. However, Ms. Munoz-Brunswick and then-Chief Krizay’s hubris in the belief they answer to no one and are permitted to fabricate policy, reinterpret the definitions of various provisions in the policy and practices of the Department and run roughshod over Duron proved to be their downfall.
Before Duron had to put one witness on the stand in his case, the Employment Appeals Board agreed it had heard enough inconsistent statements, misapplication of the policies, proffered testimony from the County’s witnesses and lack of any proof Duron violated the alleged policies.
Because of the support provided by the Imperial County Probation and Corrections Peace Officers’ Association and PORAC LDF, the Imperial County Probation Department was unable to succeed in its attempt to impose excessive discipline with impunity.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Sean D. Howell is an Associate Attorney with Mastagni, Holstedt, Amick, Miller & Johnsen. He represented Jaime Duron in his administrative appeal before the Imperial County Employment Appeals Board.
PORAC Legal Defense Administrator Ed Fishman Testimony: Law Enforcement Use of Body Cameras.
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[My representative] was very professional and helpful. She kept me informed with my options and the direction of the investigation.
- Kerry Carlson Midpeninsula Ranger POA
I have held leadership positions in our POA most of my career. Because of my role as President and Vice President I have been a target to management. I feel that if it were not for LDF I wouldn't have a job
- Steven Moorehouse Redding POA
Thank you for your help.
- Nancy Page Aurora PA
I didn't end up needing his service but he was awesome in what conversations we had before the matter was resolved. Very valuable - LDF!
- Emery Eccle Culver City POA
LDF is THE most important asset / resource that police officers have. "Thank you" to all involved and keep up the good work!
- Kenneth S. Blonski East Bay Regional Parks PMA
I was very pleased with my representative.
- Steven E. Lopez Santa Maria POA
Keep up the Good Work! Your service was extremely helpful to me. Thank you.
- Larry Fitch Shasta Co DSA
My LDF rep was great, always returned my calls quickly and kept me up to date with what was going on with the case. Thank you.
- Christopher Delaney Upland POA
Your rep was very personal. Even though my case involved something minor, your rep made me [feel] my case was his most important. I am very satisfied with my LDF team.
- Paul Barrolaza Twin Cities POA
- Steven Moorehouse Redding POA
You guys are Great! Very professional and well informed. THANK YOU!
- John M. Laser Oceanside POA
[My representative] always took my calls or returned them within hours. Put my mind at ease and kept me well informed. LDF is well served by this law firm!
- Robert Muelberg Denver PPA
I could not have had a better attorney. [My representative ] went way above and beyond his duties. I would not have had a better experience with my representative. I believe that the LDF is the single most important benefit a police officer could have!
- Kelly K. Roe San Joaquin Co Corr Officers
[My representative] did a fantastic job at returning my phone calls and keeping me informed of any and all information pertaining to my case. I would recommend him to anyone.
- Melvarene Hayes LA Airport POA
They were there when I needed them and my whole case was handled on the phone. I met my representative after my case closed and he was at our union meeting when I had the pleasure to meet him and thank him in person.
- Juan Pascua, Jr. San Diego Co DSA
Very helpful and very informative!
- Aaron Delgado Monterey POA
My representative called me back promptly and kept me informed. I had the impression she cared and was there to help.
- Gary J. Foppiano Oakland POA
[My representative] has been in my corner for 28 years. I have been represented by this firm probably 6 times in my career from minor to major discipline cases with a great outcome for me. They're batting 100%
- Paul Figueroa Oakland POA
LDF was there when I needed them!! In this litigious world, it's nice to know LDF has GREAT lawyers on our side who look out for us!! [My Representative] is a great attorney and a person I would trust in any circumstance!!!
- Ricky L. Hemphill Los Angeles School PA
[My representative] was an excellent lawyer.
- Scott King Ripon POA
[My representative] is the best LDF rep I have ever had. If I were to need an LDF rep again I would want it to be [my representative].
- Christopher Wirth A F G E Border Patrol
LDF referred me to [ representative ] in Spokane, WA. [ Representative ] did an outstanding job representing me. Thank you very much for the referral ! I would not be employed any longer had it not been for [ representative ] and his legal team.”
- Grace Castro AFGE Local 2455 – Laredo, TX
My representative was very kind and showed he cared when explaining what my legal rights were when dealing with an internal investigation.
- Jeff Stanley Upland POA
Excellent representation. [My representative] is a great attorney.
- Gilbert Garcia Oceanside POA
My attorney provided outstanding representation.
- Gina Reyes Broadmoor POA
[My representative] was wonderful! Even though my situation didn't end in my favor, he was very supportive, informative & patient. He always answered every email in a timely fashion and was very accessible. I appreciated everything he was able to do for me.
- Rick Stephens Alpine CO DSA
My representative was very good. I highly recommend my lawyer to anyone.
- Raymond Fisher Colorado State Patrol Assn
I have known for sometime that PORAC would provide the services I needed at the time I needed them. This is a professional competent organization prepared to handle the appropriate legal matters our officers face in today's environment.
- Robert Glock Oakland POA
I am always satisfied with LDF and all their representatives.
- Evelyn Hooks Shasta CO PPOA
Thank God for the L.D.F.
- Robyn Delaney Mono County PSOA
[My Representative] truly is an exceptional attorney. He has always represented me with honesty and compassion. Well Done.
- Marco Flores Ventura County PPOA
Great program. I was lost until the attorneys explained the situation. I was very impressed and satisfied. Thanks LDF.
- Eric Olson Escondido POA
You guys did an amazing job! Thank you L.D.F. !
- George Fierro El Monte POA
I am a firm believer that LDF serves an essential part in the assistance to protect an officer's POBR & in the integrity of an investigation or complaint. I highly recommend the law office of [My Represenative].
- Nestor Hernandez San Diego POA
This is a great program designed to protect LEO’s in need
- Michael Sexton Manteca POA
[My representative] was awesome.
- Korey Lankow Assn Highway Patrol of Arizona
Outstanding service from bottom-to-top.
- Stephen Woodward Palm Springs POA
Great job by my LDF lawyer. I have had to use them several times over my 20 year career and their service is invaluable.
- Russell Wise Alameda POA
- Michael Kan Palo Alto POA
I have always been and will continue to be a strong supporter of LDF and would not work as a police officer without it. I am extremely happy with the service I have received both from LDF and [my representative].
- Derwin Longmire Oakland POA
Outstanding [law firm] - incredible firm. And, LDF was easy to work and correspond with.
- Yvonne Heuston ERS/SPPOA Supervisors
My representative was outstanding and knew what to lookout for and how to handle situations as they appeared. He told me what to expect and how he proposed to handle the hurdles. Just telling what to expect helped put me at ease as the situation was so foreign to me, and intimidating.
- Brendan Dolan Milwaukee PA
Everything went very smooth and they handled everything! Thank you.
- RIchard Okeson Hesperia USD POA
I can't express how satisfying and comforting it was to have such a well qualified and pleasant attorney at my side. Thank you so much for everything you did for me, and if you can, please thank [ my representative] again for being there for me.
- Cherie Rye Lyon Co SEA
I am very happy with the service I received from LDF. I am grateful that our association includes LDF as part of our dues.
- Greg Harman Kensington POA
[My representative] is the best!!
- German Alvarez Anaheim PA
[My representative ] was great!
- Kristen Patterson Contra Costa Co Prob. Assn.
[My representative] was helpful and made me feel supported. I got the results I desired. Very pleased with the process.
- Chris Moore Palo Alto POA
No Complaints. Great Resource.
- Martha Tschetter Carson City Sheriffs PA
The LDF process was painless and I was able to get immediate representation in an urgent time of need. Thank you LDF
- Brian Schopf Elk Grove POA
Keep up the good work.
- Christopher Walters Antioch POA
My LDF rep was very attentive, and courteous. She made every effort to keep me informed, and kept my best interests at the front of the process. I was very satisfied with my LDF rep, and the entire process.
- James Stephenson Petaluma POA
Outstanding service. Thanks.
- Gregory Carbett Ontario POA
The attorney assigned to my case was GREAT! It's sad, but it's impossible to be an officer in today's world without a defense fund like PORAC LDF. I am now retired and signed up for the retired officers CCW LDF. Thanks!
- Andrew J. Brice Santa Maria POA
As always... an excellent result.
- James Beckman Miracosta College POA
Excellent service everytime.
- Joe Charvez Santa Clara Co DSA
I could not be happier with the interest, work put into my case, and assistance from [my representative]. Thanks !!
- Nicholas Ward Antioch POA
[ Representative ] did a great job. My case was extremely complicated and difficult. She did a great job.
- Toinie Lee Jackson Madera Co DSA
Unfortunately, I have been placed in the position to use LDF several times in my career. Without their valued services, I would not be here to write this. I and my family thank you.