Police Files

Exonerated LBPD officer sues City of Fullerton and PD following parents’ death

On Thursday, Nov 8, LBPD officer Rock Wagner, Wendy Wagner, and James McBride filed a lawsuit against the City of Fullerton, Fullerton Police Department and three Fullerton PD officers alleging false arrest/false imprisonment, battery, negligence, civil rights violations, intentional infliction of emotional distress, defamation, and wrongful death damages after being exonerated of any wrongdoing in connection with elder abuse and fraud arrests involving Rock and Wendy’s parents.

“This was an arrest made apparently with no investigation whatsoever,” said attorney Gary Casselman of Casselman Law, who represents the plaintiffs. “Not long after the arrest, because of the actions by the police, the Wagner parents passed away. Rock and Wendy Wagner’s parents are dead now.”

There will be a press conference today, Tuesday, Nov 13, at 11 a.m., regarding the lawsuit filed. The press conference will be held at the Ayres Hotel Orange in Orange.

Officer Wagner was arrested by Fullerton PD near his Lake Forest home on November 28, 2017, on suspicion of elder abuse and fraud. His sister, Wendy Wagner, and her boyfriend, James McBride, also plaintiffs in the lawsuit, were also arrested. 

After the arrests, the Orange County District Attorney’s office declined to file charges in the case, finding a lack of evidence to support such charges, and finding that no crime had been committed. Officer Wagner, a 26-year law enforcement veteran, also was cleared by an internal Laguna Beach Police Department investigation.

“Both of these investigations have concluded and after thorough review of the evidence produced, it has been determined that allegations of misconduct could not be supported. It has also been determined by the Orange County District Attorney’s Office that evidence of a crime did not exist,” said LBPD Cpt Jason Kravetz. 

The lawsuit alleges that the Fullerton PD rushed to produce public statements and circulated Wagner’s arrest mugshot and that of his sister and boyfriend to the media, boasting of its “thorough investigation,” but made no attempt to announce the fact that the case was quickly thrown out when it became evident that no crime had been committed by them.

According to the lawsuit filed, Rock Wagner, Wendy Wagner, and James McBride are seeking compensatory damages and special damages, attorney’s fees, punitive damages, and “further relief as the court may deem proper and just.”

“They can’t get their parents back,” Casselman said. “One passed away within a few weeks of the incident, the other was a few months after.”

In response to a request for comment, Fullerton City Manager Ken Domer said, “The City of Fullerton and the Fullerton Police Department remain committed to a high standard of professionalism, which includes a thorough investigation of this claim. The City of Fullerton avoids commenting on matters involving litigation.”

Grand theft auto suspect fails to yield, nabbed 

in high-risk traffic stop

On Friday, Nov 9, at 12:41 p.m., LBPD was notified by an OC Sheriff’s Department helicopter of a stolen vehicle in Laguna Beach driving northbound on Coast Highway from Camel Point Drive. The white Ford 150 construction vehicle was recently stolen from Lake Forest.

“An officer located the vehicle at Thalia Street and South Coast Highway. Officers attempted to initiate a high-risk traffic stop at Boat Canyon and North Coast Highway but the vehicle failed to yield,” said LBPD Spokesperson PIO Sgt Jim Cota. “At Crystal Heights and Coast Highway, the suspect finally yielded to pursuing units and surrendered to officers.”

OCSD’s “Duke” helicopter assisted in the pursuit. 

Francis T McNair, 53, of Mission Viejo was arrested for grand theft auto. According to Sgt Cota, McNair was positively identified as the suspect who had stolen the victim’s truck. McNair was later transported to Orange County Jail.

Bail was set at $20,000.