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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.

Police Files

Fatal car crash, man found Thursday morning near Nix Nature Center ejected from BMW

On Thursday, Nov 8, at approximately 6:30 a.m., CHP Orange County received a call from a concerned motorist reporting a solo black vehicle over the side on SR-133 northbound at Nix Nature Center.

“Upon arrival, CHP officers found the vehicle and the solo male occupant, who appeared to be ejected from the BMW as a result of the collision,” CHP OC Information Officer Rafael Reynoso said. The driver of the BMW was pronounced deceased at the scene by OCFA.

“For reasons still under investigation, the male driver lost control of the vehicle sometime last night [Wednesday], and veered off the road near the embankment,” Officer Reynoso said. “At this time, it is still unknown if drugs and/or alcohol were a factor in the collision.”

The deceased man’s name will be released by OCSD Coroner’s office pending notification to next of kin.

The man has been identified as a 46-year-old Wildomar resident. He was driving a black 2006 BMW 3 Series when the solo fatality occurred.

“The vehicle collided with a tree, then a rock ditch, which caused the vehicle to overturn several times,” Officer Reynoso said.

Asked if there were any tire marks that would indicate that the driver tried to break or swerve to avoid the accident, Officer Reynoso responded, “There were no signs of tire friction marks at the scene.” 

The time of the fatal collision is still under investigation as is the cause of the accident. It is still unknown how fast the driver was traveling. However, he was not wearing a seatbelt. 

Officer Reynoso said, “Yes, it absolutely could have changed the outcome had he been wearing a seatbelt.”

The most prevalent causes of single car fatalities include speed, DUI, drowsy and distracted drivers, and not wearing seat belts among other factors.

LBPD mourns loss of hero Sgt Ron Helus of Ventura County Sheriff’s Dept, killed in nightclub shooting

“With incredible sadness, the Laguna Beach Police Department mourns the loss of Ventura County Sheriff’s Department Sergeant Ron Helus and the victims that were killed in this horrific act of violence. An incident like this can happen anywhere, so please always stay vigilant to your surroundings and please call us immediately if you feel something does not seem right or someone exhibits behavior that you feel warrants a law enforcement contact. Our police department is fully committed to this city and the safety of its citizens at all times,” said LBPD Spokesperson PIO Sgt Jim Cota. 

Police Files Helus

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Courtesy of LBPD

LBPD mourns the death of VCSD Sgt Ron Helus, a hero killed in the tragic mass shooting on Wednesday

Sgt Helus was a 29-year veteran of the department and a member of its SWAT team for several years. Sgt Helus was one of the first officers to answer the call of an active shooter, rushing inside the Borderline Bar and Grill in Thousand Oaks late Wednesday.

According to authorities, Sgt Helus exchanged gunfire and was shot several times before another officer dragged him away from the line of fire. He later died at the hospital. He was one of 12 people who died in the tragic mass shooting.

Handguns found in three separate incidents this week

On Sunday, Nov 4, at 6:59 p.m., LBPD officers responded to Pavilions, at the 600 block of N Coast Hwy, regarding a loaded handgun found in the men’s restroom. The person who called in the gun locked the restroom door until LBPD arrived on scene. Per the reporting person, the subjects who reported it to store management were pacing and acting very suspicious.

“A records check showed the handgun belonged to a Carrying Concealed Weapon (CCW) permit holder who lived in Thousand Oaks. Dispatchers were able to contact the subject, who verified that he had been in Laguna Beach earlier in the day and had used the restroom at the Pavilions,” Sgt Cota said. “He drove back from Thousand Oaks and picked up his handgun at the PD after being positively identified as the owner and validation of his CCW license. The weapon was a Glock 26 (9mm).”

On Tuesday, Nov 6, at 1:56 p.m., an officer responded to the Surf and Sand Hotel, at the 1500 block of S Coast Hwy, for a loaded handgun found in a recently vacated room. The reporting person locked the gun in a safe until officers arrived on scene.

“The gun was a Beretta .25 ACP. When the gun was checked, it did not show a registered owner. The handgun was secured and brought back to the police department to be booked in for safekeeping,” Sgt Cota said. “Detectives will verify if the handgun was used in any prior crimes. An informational report was generated to document the incident.”

Also on Tuesday at 10:41 p.m., a reporting person from the Pacific Edge Hotel, at the 600 block of S Coast Hwy, called to report they had found a firearm in a recently vacated room. The guests had left the gun behind in the nightstand. It was being held in the safe until LBPD could arrive on scene.

“The firearm was registered, the owner was contacted and agreed to come back to Laguna Beach to pick it up,” Sgt Cota said. “However, due to DOJ requirements it had to be booked for safekeeping. The registered owner was directed to DOJ to retrieve his firearm.”

Two arrested for stolen vehicle in high-risk stop

On Monday, Nov 5, at 11:36 a.m., officers were alerted by LBPD dispatchers of a stolen vehicle in the city. An officer spotted the red 2008 Toyota Highlander on Laguna Canyon Road near the ASL and trailed it as it turned onto El Toro Road and then onto S/B SR-73 until other officers arrived to assist. OCSD units also responded to assist. 

Police Files Lisa StinesPolice Files Andrew Fluor“A high-risk vehicle stop was initiated just off the Greenfield off-ramp. Two individuals were detained and through the course of the investigation it was discovered the vehicle was stolen out of Newport Beach the day prior and the driver, Lisa Stines, knew it was stolen,” Sgt Cota said. “The male passenger, Andrew Fluor, also knew the vehicle was stolen and used his friends’ name and DOB to conceal his identity. Once his true identity was revealed, it was discovered he was a restrained person from Stines.” 

A search of the vehicle also revealed Fluor was in possession of burglary tools. Both suspects were taken into custody and brought to the station and booked. 

Andrew Chase Fluor, 35, of Newport Beach, was charged with impersonation of another individual, possession of stolen property, violation of a restraining order, and possession of burglary tools. Bail was set at $35,000.

Lisa Renee Stines, 31, of Laguna Beach, was charged with possession of stolen property. Bail was set at $20,000.

Local goat herding dog Shandu lost then found thanks to locals’ efforts

LBFD put out an alert Thursday morning reporting they needed the community’s help in finding the City’s goat herding dog, Shandu.

 “Shandu went missing this morning at 7 a.m. from the area of Morningside and Starlit in Bluebird Canyon. If located, please contact Ana Neira in the Fire Department at (949) 497-0305 or (949) 497-0701,” LBFD officials said. 

Police Files Goat herding dog found

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Courtesy of LPBD

Lost goat-herding dog, Shandu, rescued Thursday by concerned locals

Good news. According to Sgt Cota, “Shandu was found by a search party by residents who live in the 3000 block of Mountain View Drive. They said that social media helped them to recognize him.”

Police Files

Woman who claims ASL as address arrested for felony meth sales

On Wednesday, Oct 31, at 2:30 p.m., an occupied vehicle check was conducted to the back of the Mobil gas station at the 100 block of N Coast Hwy. 

Police Files Monique Castillo“The three occupants in the vehicle were detained for a narcotic investigation and the driver, Monique Castillo, was subsequently arrested for possession of a controlled substance for sales,” LBPD Spokesperson PIO Sgt Jim Cota said. “Over 18 grams of methamphetamine was located along with a scale in the rear passenger compartment of the vehicle.”

According to, the street value of meth is $60 to $300 per gram ($1,080 to $5,400 for 18 grams).

Monique Marie Altierra Castillo, 41, Santa Ana, was booked and transported to OC Jail. “Castillo claims to be homeless and provided the ASL’s address for her residence,” Sgt Cota said.

Bail was set at $25,000.

More meth…and a stolen car

On Thursday, Nov 1, at 11:33 p.m., LBPD officers were alerted of a Honda Pilot stolen from Garden Grove earlier in the day. Officers located the vehicle within two minutes.

Police Files Cristian ChavezAccording to Sgt Cota, “The driver made two quick turns and quickly pulled to the curb to try to hide from the officers. Officers initiated a high-risk traffic stop at the 1300 block of Glenneyre Street.” 

Police Files Michelle MullinsTwo Santa Ana residents were detained and subsequently placed under arrest for vehicle theft, Cristian Carlos Chavez, 20, and Michelle Esther Mullins, 21.

“Chavez had a prior arrest for vehicle theft and Mullins had an outstanding warrant for theft. A narcotic pipe with a usable quantity of methamphetamine was also found in the car,” Sgt Cota said. “The investigation showed that the couple had used the victim’s credit card to make purchases at a gas station and at a Walmart in Santa Ana. Additional charges were added.”

The victim responded to pick up his car. He was very appreciative of the officers’ work.

No bail was set for Chavez. Bail was set at $20,000 for Mullins

Police Files

Neighbor allegedly pepper sprays neighbor, resulting in citizens’ arrests

On Tuesday, Oct 23, at 11:14 p.m., LBPD and LBFD personnel responded to the 500 block of Saint Ann’s Drive for a dispute between neighbors involving one allegedly using pepper spray on the other. Emergency personnel arrived and contacted both parties.

According to LBPD Spokesperson PIO Sgt Jim Cota, “They had conflicting accounts of what had happened but surrounded the fact that these neighbors were not fond of one another.”

The not so neighborly conduct included one neighbor allegedly spraying the other with pepper spray.

 “The recipient of the pepper spray was able to dodge the primary stream and was exposed to just a light mist,” Sgt Cota said. “He was examined and released by fire personnel. Each neighbor placed the other under private person’s arrest for assault and battery. Citations were issued and the subjects were sent home.”

Newport Beach man was reportedly walking on residents’ roofs after midnight

On Tuesday, Oct 30, at 1:15 a.m., LBPD officers responded to a residence in the 400 block of Broadway Street for the report of the sound of someone walking on the resident’s roof. Officers arrived and observed a male suspect in the backyard of the property. 

According Sgt Cota, “The suspect jumped over a fence and fled. A perimeter was established, and a search was conducted in the residential area as well as a nearby commercial building. The suspect was not located.” 

At 3:23 a.m., officers responded to a residence in the 300 block of Holly Street for the report of suspicious noises on the roof and back deck of the residence. Officers arrived and were informed by a neighbor that he saw a male subject in a nearby alley. 

“A perimeter was established, and officers began another search. Officers located the suspect in a residential backyard,” Sgt Cota said. “The suspect jumped over a fence and fled again. He was pursued by officers and was caught in a front yard down the street.”

According to Sgt Cota, he was the same suspect as the one from the earlier Broadway Street call. “Homeless subject Ryan Vincent, 26, told officers that he had arrived in Laguna Beach yesterday and claimed that he was just trying to find a place to sleep,” Cota added. 

Ryan Vincent, 26, of Newport Beach, was placed under arrest for prowling and resisting arrest. 

Bail was set at $500.

Police Files

Suspect with 9 warrants passes out in resident’s backyard after stealing from downtown

On Wednesday, Oct 24, at 5:23 pm, LBPD officers responded to a residence in the 1100 block of Gaviota Drive in reference to an unknown male subject passed out in the backyard of a private residence. 

According to LBPD Spokesperson PIO Sgt Jim Cota, “The reporting party observed the unknown male tamper with several parked vehicles before jumping the fence and passing out in his neighbor’s backyard.” 

The reporting person believed the suspect “may [have been] under the influence, appeared to be stumbling while he was trying to open the car doors. The suspect was described as skinny with blond hair wearing a white T-shirt and carrying a tan jacket over his arm and having a shopping type bag.”

Officers contacted the male and after first providing a false name, he was later identified as San Juan Capistrano resident Timothy Stephen Meek, 27. 

“Meek was in possession of several items that did not belong to him. The investigating officers located items that were taken from earlier thefts. The officers believed the property in Meek’s possession was related to those crimes. Those victims were contacted and positively identified their stolen property,” Sgt Cota said. “Meek was also in possession of clothing he admitted illegally taking from downtown clothing stores earlier in the day.”

According to Sgt Cota, Meek was arrested for false impersonation and petty theft. A record check revealed Meek had nine outstanding warrants. He was taken into custody and transported to OC Jail.

According to police logs, bail was set at $20,000.

Motley crew busted for burglary and fake bills, one had meth

On Friday, Oct 26, at 11:44 a.m., at the 900 block of S Coast Hwy, LBPD officers were dispatched to a report of two women who had passed fake $100 bills in a store. Officers arrived on scene and located the two suspects. The reporting person positively identified them as the two suspects who gave fake $100 bills. 

Both suspects were described as wearing small tank tops, one with abdomen tattoos. 

According to Sgt Cota, “Officers detained the females, identified as Rancho Cucamonga residents Makayla Cooper and Taylor Hubbard. During the investigation the females stated a male by the name of Kenny gave them the $100 bills, dropped them off and told them to go shopping.” 

A few minutes later the females told officers that Kenny’s car had just driven by the location. The vehicle, described as a grey Toyota Corolla, drove back around and officers were able to stop the vehicle and contact the driver, Rancho Cucamonga resident Kenneth Pecaro.

A lengthy investigation was conducted and all three were arrested for Burglary and Forgery/Counterfeiting, including Makayla Cooper, 23, Taylor Alissa Hubbard, 21, and Kenneth James Pecaro, 46.

“Cooper also had the charge of possession of methamphetamine and possession of narcotic paraphernalia,” Sgt Cota said. “Pecaro was on parole and after contacting his parole officer, he was placed on a no bail parole hold. All three were transported to LBPD for booking.”

Bail was set at $20,000 for Hubbard. No bail was set for Cooper or Pecaro.

Police Files

Arrested at gunpoint: Suspect allegedly hits officer in the face, knocks him to the ground

On Tuesday, Oct 23, at 3:11 p.m., an LBPD officer was walking to the Chamber of Commerce at 357 Glenneyre Street when “he came into contact with two homeless subjects, Eli Lopiccola and Matthew Benusa, who were drinking alcohol,” LBPD Spokesperson PIO Sgt Jim Cota said.

Police Files Matthew Benusa”They were advised to stop drinking and an additional officer was requested,” Sgt Cota said. “Before the other officer arrived, the two subjects tried to walk away. The officer advised them to stop and reached out to stop Benusa from leaving. Benusa struck the officer in the face knocking him to the ground. Additional officers were requested, and both subjects were taken into custody at gunpoint.”

Matthew Paul Benusa, 32, of Laguna Beach, was arrested for resisting an executive officer, which is a felony, and Eli Richard Lopiccola, 46, of Laguna Beach, was arrested for public intoxication.

Bail was set at $500 for Lopiccola.

Bail was set at $20,000 for Benusa.

LBPD is helping man turn his life around after being arrested four times in five days

On Tuesday, Oct 23, at 6:54 p.m., LBPD officers responded to the 800 block of Glenneyre Street, on a report that local homeless man Michael Matekel was causing a disturbance at Circle K, where he was reportedly “aggressively panhandling.”

 According to Sgt Cota, “He was bothering customers, and refusing to leave the property when asked. Matekel was advised to leave but he chose to not comply, so he was arrested for trespassing. He was booked and later released.”

Since Friday, Oct 19, Michael Matekel, 30, of Laguna Beach, has been cited or arrested four times in five days for trespassing. Matekel was previously warned and was taken into custody and later released with a court date.

“He is working with Corporal Farris on getting his life together,” Sgt Cota said. “Farris will provide the resources needed.”

Bail was set at $500.

Littering sets off a sequence of events that lands a local male in jail

On Sunday, Oct 21, at noon, an LBPD officer tried to contact homeless subject Kyle Blaker for littering in the area of Calliope Street and South Coast Highway. 

According to Sgt Cota, “Blaker ignored the officer’s commands to stop and continued to walk away from him. The officer reached out to stop Blaker and he immediately tensed up and tried to pull away. At the same moment, a jailer was driving by and saw the interaction and stopped to assist.”

 Two more officers responded and assisted in getting Blaker detained in handcuffs. Kyle James Blaker, 33, of Laguna Beach was subsequently taken into custody for littering, providing a false name to officers, and violation of his parole terms.

No bail was set.

Police Files

Resident reports theft of No on P signs by man in Bentley

On Friday, Oct 19, at 10:31 a.m., LBPD officers responded in reference to a reported theft of political signs. 

“The reporting party observed the suspect taking the signs from in front of Ruby’s Diner and leaving in a black Bentley. The suspect was located in the 600 block of North Coast Highway in the black Bentley with several “No on P” signs in the rear passenger seat of his vehicle,” LBPD Spokesperson PIO Sgt Jim Cota said. 

The signs were returned and a police report was taken. No arrests were made although the reporting parties indicated they would be seeking further action.

Police Files Signs

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Submitted photo

LBPD responds to resident’s report of No on P signs allegedly stolen in South Laguna

“LBPD has sent the report to the District Attorney’s Office in Newport Beach. They will review the report and determine whether or not charges will be filed based on the circumstances of the incident,” said Sgt Cota.

Jennifer Zeiter, founder of STOP (Stop Taxing our Property) and organizer of the No on P campaign said, “I filed the form of complaint because I am the victim. STOP is the one who paid for the signs and I am with STOP.”

Zeiter, who received the police report on Monday, further stated, “Our concern is that we made multiple requests for a copy of the police report [over the weekend] and the identity of the [alleged] thief and we were denied it each and every time. We missed a critical window to investigate the suspect further.”

The suspect was described as a white male, 35 to 40 years old, wearing a light colored dress shirt and slacks. 

The Bentley is reportedly not registered in the suspect’s name.

In response to the incident, LBPD Chief Laura Farinella said, “On a daily basis the Police Department is responding to calls related to the theft of political signs. Officers are taking reports and investing these incidents. Additionally, due to frequent complaints the city receives regarding the placement of these signs, there is a daily effort from Code Enforcement to monitor public property and remove signs that are not placed on private property. 

“With that said, if signs have been removed by city staff, they will attempt to contact the campaign office to let them know where and when their signs can be picked up. All signs not recovered by the end of the election will be properly disposed of by Code Enforcement staff.”

Chief Farinella also pointed to the city’s current ordinances, MC 25.54.012 and MC 25.54.014, which state that election signs shall not be placed in the public right of way, however, may be placed on private property.

“I truly hope we can all conduct ourselves in a kind and professional manner during this campaign season,” Chief Farinella said.

Editor’s Note: Stu News Laguna has elected as a matter of policy not to run the suspect’s name until (if) charges are announced by the OCDA.

Rollover accident downs wires in the Canyon

On Monday, Oct 22, at 12:42 a.m., at the 1900 block of Laguna Canyon Road, LBPD and LBFD personnel responded to the 1900 block of Laguna Canyon Road for the report of a rollover traffic collision. 

According to Sgt Cota, “Emergency personnel arrived and found that a Toyota Prius had struck and severed a Frontier utility pole on the inbound side of Laguna Canyon Road.” 

The driver, a 45-year-old Laguna Beach resident, sustained a cut to her hand but declined transport to the hospital. Alcohol was not a factor in the collision. 

Police Files Rollover accident

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Courtesy of LBPD

Rollover accident on Laguna Canyon Road downs wires and makes a mess of traffic

“The severed utility pole was suspended by its overhanging wires, but some of the wires ended up hanging low over Laguna Canyon Road,” Sgt Cota said. “The height of the wires did not impede regular traffic, but tall vehicles such as big rigs would have to move to the outbound lane to traverse under the obstacle.”

 LBPD and LBFD were working with Frontier to get a new pole installed last night, according to Sgt Cota.

 LBPD sent out several Nixle alerts following the collision. The first alert was sent at 1:36 a.m., warning that traffic would be closed in both directions until further notice. At 5:11 a.m., a second alert read, “still closed in both directions until further notice, “due to an accident resulting in low hanging wires.” At 9:24 a.m., LBPD sent out a third alert, “expect heavy delays in both directions for the next four to six hours. Use alternate route if possible.” At 2:30 p.m., LBPD sent out a final alert reporting that the pole repair was complete and all lanes were opened.

Bicyclist busted with baggies of meth allegedly for sale

Police Files Robert CaltabianoOn Friday, Oct 19, at 12:55 a.m., an LBPD officer stopped a bicyclist in the 1700 block of Laguna Canyon Road with no front light and rear red reflectors. The bicyclist, homeless resident Robert Caltabiano, had an outstanding $5,000 warrant for his arrest.

“A search incident to arrest led to five individually packaged baggies of methamphetamine inside a small zipper bag,” Sgt Cota said. “The charges of possession of a controlled substance for sales and transportation of controlled substance for sales were added.”

Robert Lenn Caltabiano, 46, of Laguna Beach, was arrested and booked at the Laguna Beach Police Department. 

Bail was set at $25,000.

Police Files

Drunk male on beach arrested after allegedly harassing beachgoers

On Sunday, Oct 14, at 4:15 p.m., LBPD officers were dispatched to the 600 block of Sleepy Hollow Lane, at Sleepy Hollow Beach, for an intoxicated male on the beach allegedly harassing other beachgoers. 

According to LBPD Spokesperson PIO Sgt Jim Cota, “Officers contacted Kyle Blaker and could smell the heavy odor of alcohol on his breath and person. Blaker was obviously intoxicated. He was ultimately arrested for drunk in public and being resistive to the arrest. He was also charged with resisting arrest.”

Kyle James Blaker, 33, of Hawaii, was arrested for felony parole violation, disorderly conduct related to alcohol, and resisting arrest.

“Blaker was a challenge to get back to the police vehicles because he was unstable on his feet due to his intoxication level,” Sgt Cota said. “Officers also learned that Blaker was on parole so the charge of a parole violation was added.

No bail was set.

Repeat offender James Leis arrested at Main Beach by LBPD

According to Sgt Cota, on Tuesday, Oct 16, 9:47 a.m., “LBPD officers recognized local Laguna Beach transient James Leis, 29, who was hanging out on the cobblestones at Main Beach at the 100 block of N Coast Hwy. They also had knowledge he had a warrant for his arrest.”

Leis was contacted and taken into custody for a $10,000 drug related warrant.

According to Stu News Laguna records, Leis has been arrested 7 times by LBPD since May 1, 2018.

City’s local campaign sign placement regulations explained 

City Community Information Officer Cassie Walder explained there is a daily effort by the City’s Code Enforcement Division to monitor public property in the City and remove campaign signs that are placed on public property. 

Public property includes parks, medians, and the public right of way. Campaign signs posted on private property are allowed with the permission of the property owner. The theft or destruction of campaign signs is a crime and will be prosecuted. 

“If you see signs placed in violation of the Municipal Code, please call the City’s Code Enforcement Division at (949) 497-0301, and it will investigate promptly,” Walder said. “Please do not attempt to rectify the situation yourself. Thank you for your cooperation.”

LBPD Sgt Jim Cota completes 8-month SLI program, sharpens leadership skills

Congratulations are in order for LBPD Spokesperson PIO Sgt Jim Cota, who completed the Sherman Block Supervisor Leadership Institute (SLI) program this week. 

Over the last eight months, Sgt Cota learned about the various qualities that encompass a strong leader. He was tasked with reading numerous books and completed countless assignments in order to sharpen his leadership qualities.

Police Files Cota graduates

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Submitted photo

Pictured with facilitator Dave Smith, LBPD Sgt Jim Cota finishes SLI program

SLI is an intensive leadership development program that is designed to stimulate personal growth, leadership, and ethical decision-making for California law enforcement front line supervisors. LBPD lauds Sgt Cota for his ongoing efforts to bring excellence in every area to the community.

Pizza with a Cop: share pizza and conversation with LBPD, our amazing best in blue, on Oct 25

Join LBPD on Thursday, Oct 25, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., for LBPD’s first Pizza with a Cop event at zpizza, at 30822 Coast Hwy.

 “Residents can stop by and receive a free slice or two of pizza and chat with police officers about any community concerns they may have. Pizza with a Cop is modeled after Coffee with a Cop,” said Community Services Officer Nikie Hernandez, City of Laguna Beach. “There are no agendas or speeches, just a chance to have pizza and conversation with the officers who keep our community safe. Come out and have a slice on us.”

Police Files

Wet roads, car severs power pole causing three-car injury collision in the Canyon

On Friday, Oct 12, at 10:15 p.m., LBPD officers and LBFD were dispatched to a rollover traffic collision on Laguna Canyon Road and SR 73 south, involving three vehicles and resulting in injuries.

“A Mitsubishi Lancer occupied with three males was traveling south on Laguna Canyon Road. The roadway was wet and the vehicle lost control and struck an Edison support pole. The pole was severed and landed across the roadway. The Mitsubishi rolled over and came to rest on its roof. The driver sustained a head injury and was transported to Mission Hospital Mission Viejo,” said LBPD Emergency Operations Coordinator Jordan Villwock.

 An Audi Q5 occupied with four females was traveling behind the Mitsubishi and struck the downed pole. The Audi sustained front end damage. All four passengers were uninjured. 

Causing a chain reaction, a Nissan 300ZX occupied with one male was traveling behind the Audi and also struck the pole. The driver of the Nissan complained of neck and back pain and was transported to Mission Hospital Mission Viejo. 

Laguna Canyon Road was closed between El Toro Road and SR 73 in both directions for approximately two hours. A Nixle Alert and Sigalert were issued. Edison responded and de-energized the electrical lines which caused power to be lost in the Club Laguna area for approximately four hours.

Suspected DUI crash causes bodily injury, sends victims to the hospital

On Saturday, Oct 13, at 3:17 p.m., LBPD and LBFD personnel responded to 1400 N Coast Highway for an injury traffic collision involving a black Jeep hitting a silver VW, allegedly while intoxicated, causing bodily injury.

“Upon the officer’s arrival, it was determined Wyatt Hume was driving while under the influence,” said LBPD Emergency Operations Coordinator Jordan Villwock. “Hume was arrested for DUI and a traffic collision report was taken. Two occupants were transported to Mission Hospital Laguna Beach with complaints of pain.” 

Wyatt Edmond Hume, 25, of Laguna Niguel, was arrested on suspicion of DUI with bodily injury and driving with a blood alcohol content of 0.08% or higher.

Bail was set at $100,000.

Man allegedly gestures toward exposed privates

On Wednesday, Oct 10, at 5:42 p.m., LBPD officers were dispatched to Ocean Avenue, near Laguna Drug, in reference to a male subject allegedly exposing himself to passersby.

“The male was identified as Brian O’Connor, a local transient,” LBPD Emergency Operations Coordinator Jordan Villwock said. “O’Connor [allegedly] approached two separate occupied vehicles and made hand motions towards his exposed penis.”

 Brian Keith Michael O’Connor, 56, of Laguna Beach, was arrested for indecent exposure and transported to OCJ.

Bail was set at $500.

Locals beware: reports of identity theft, stolen mail and credit cards 

On Saturday, Oct 13, at 2:39 a.m., LBPD conducted a traffic stop in the 900 block of Laguna Canyon Road on a 2007 BMW. During the stop numerous washed checks, identification belonging to others, and what appeared to be a large quantity of stolen mail from Riverside were found. The driver and passenger, Theresa Grace Delgado, 23, of Victorville, and Charles M. Finneran, 31, of San Bernardino, were arrested for identity theft. 

Bail was set at $500 each.

On Wednesday, Oct 3, LBPD officers conducted a traffic stop on Coast Highway near Cleo Street, at 11:12 p.m. The vehicle was occupied by six subjects. 

During the course of the investigation, officers located 40 fraudulent credit cards.

“Two of the subjects were arrested and the vehicle, which was a rental possibly rented with a fraudulent card, was impounded,” LBPD Emergency Operations Coordinator Jordan Villwock said. “Detectives were notified and additional follow up will be needed. Both suspects were released until additional investigation is completed.”

Police Files

Motorcyclist crashes into Prius while evading police, says LBPD

On Monday, Oct 8, at 7:18 a.m., an LBPD officer was driving inbound on Laguna Canyon Road from the Toll Road (73) in heavy traffic when a motorcycle reportedly passed him on the left and to the left of the double yellow lane lines. 

“The officer activated his emergency lights and pulled behind the motorcycle. The motorcyclist looked over his shoulder but failed to yield,” LBPD Spokesperson PIO Sgt Jim Cota said. “The officer activated his siren but the motorcyclist continued to drive past the stopped traffic.”

 “When he reached the intersection of El Toro he turned completely on his seat looked directly at the officer and pulled into the bike lane and started to accelerate,” continued Sgt Cota. 

“The motorcyclist failed to see the Toyota Prius driving in front of him at a much slower speed and rear ended it,” Sgt Cota said. “The force of the collision caused him to land on the roadway.”

 Additional LBPD officers arrived as well LBFD. The motorcyclist was treated at the scene. According to police reports, he complained that his neck hurt after the spill.

Charles Chayachok Laitipaya, 23, of Riverside, was taken into custody for evading a police officer and reckless driving. He was booked and later released. 

Bail was set at $1,000.

National Walk to School Day was a hit with students, LBPD and the community

Laguna Beach students walked to school with parents, friends, LBUDS teachers, staffers, and LBPD officers during National Walk to School Day on Wednesday, Oct 3.

LBPD posted several Instagram pictures walking with students, some carrying “Walk to School” signs. Led by LBPD School Resource Officer Cpl Cornelius Ashton, our students and officers were all smiles. He was proudly sporting a badge of his own, a “Walk to School Award,” button.

Police Files National Walk to School Day

Click on photo for a larger image 

Courtesy of LBPD

Students hit the streets with parents, friends, LBPD officers and LBUSD teachers and staff for National Walk to School Day

Sgt Jim Cota, said, “Congratulations to Cpl Ashton School Resource Officer. Everyone had a blast. Our officers will do anything for the kids.”

According to Orange County Health Care Agency, “Thousands of children, families, and communities as they celebrate Walk to School Day around the world. Every year, on the first Wednesday of October, over 30 countries hold Walk to School Day events.”

Reportedly over 50 OC Schools participated in National Walk to School day. Keep it going!

Local students were treated with LBPD’s ‘Cookies with a Cop’ event at LBHS

Besides National Walk to School Day, on Wednesday, Oct 3, LBHS students got a sweet treat from LBPD at the “Cookies with a Cop” event at LBHS. LBPD officers provided cookies and conversations with students and faculty. 

Police Files Cookies with a Cop

Click on photo for a larger image 

Courtesy of LBPD

LBPD Officers treated LBHS students and faculty to cookies and conversations

LB Animal Shelter needs donated newspapers for animal care

LBPD posted on Facebook that the Laguna Beach Animal Shelter is in need of donated newspapers for the animals. If you’d like to help, please drop off any unwanted newspapers between the hours of 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. at the animal shelter located at 20612 Laguna Canyon Road. 

The animal shelter is open seven days a week. For information, call (949) 497-3552 or visit

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