Has anyone seen my bazooka? It's long and green. I had it a minute ago when I was in the can at El Pollo Loco. Gee, I hope no one finds it and accidentally takes out a Ford Explorer filled with innocent children and newborn babies. With any luck, a dude named Skeeter will find it, take it home, get ratted out by his brother-in-law, and return my bazooka to the Los Osos Sheriff's Substation.
I know! Ridiculous, right? El Pollo Loco, a missing weapon, a guy named Skeeter, and a snitch—no way, José! Send this turd back to the writers' room! Except, gulp, that's pretty much what happened last Wednesday, July 10, when—get this!—San Luis Obispo Police Chief Deanna Cantrell accidentally left her pistola en el baño de El Pollo Loco on LOVR.
True story! Nice one, Barney Fife! According to a city press release, "She went to the restroom and inadvertently left her personal firearm in the stall. Within minutes, she realized her mistake and went to the restroom to retrieve it, but it was no longer there."
That's a pretty big whoopsy-daisy! Security footage showed a man entering and exiting the same restroom followed by a 10-year-old and then another man, and since police were able to interview the kid and the last man, they were able to narrow down the "gun finder" ("thief" seems like too strong a word) to the first dude, described as "balding, wearing a black jacket, lime green and blue striped shorts, and sunglasses." Is that you, Skeeter?
It sure as hell is! Cantrell's firearm was found the next day, on July 11. Apparently the "gun locator's" brother-in-law turned him in, calling the SLO County Sheriff's Office and arranging to bring the gun taken by 30-year-old Skeeter Carlos Mangan to the Los Osos substation. You can't make this stuff up!
Now the question is what to do with Cantrell. Some mandatory firearm retraining and a sternly worded letter in her personnel file? A suspension and docked pay? Fire her? Charge her with a crime?
Your favorite perpetually outraged gadfly Kevin P. Rice quickly issued an email calling for Cantrell's immediate firing and maybe arrest: "The police chief has committed a crime and should be terminated immediately," it read, citing Penal Code 25100. He noted in boldface all-caps that "THIS CRIME BECOMES A FELONY IF DEATH OR GREAT BODILY INJURY RESULTS."
He ends his email with this little nugget of histrionics: "The next Kate Steinle is now at risk. Only time will tell," referring to the young woman killed in 2015 by José Inez García Zárate, who claimed to have found a gun under a bench by San Francisco's popular tourist destination Pier 41. He said the gun discharged when he picked it up, the round ricocheted off the pavement and struck Steinle in the back.
García Zárate, an undocumented immigrant living in the U.S., became a rallying cry for then-presidential candidate Donald J. Trump against so-called sanctuary cities. A jury, coming to the conclusion that the shooting was accidental, acquitted García Zárate of both murder and manslaughter charges but convicted him of being a felon in possession of a firearm. On a side note, García Zárate had also taken sleeping pills he found in a dumpster. They throw away weird shit in San Francisco, eh?
Anyway, Kevin "P is for Prickly" Rice, you do a disservice to your call for dismissal by throwing in this rightwing red meat dog whistle about Steinle. Stick to your point! Did Cantrell commit a crime or make a serious and really dumb mistake? I'm no lawyer, but I'm pretty sure losing a firearm is not a crime, and 25100 is about improper weapon storage. Of course, a police chief should be held to a higher standard considering her training and responsibility.
"Every cop knows you don't take your gun off and leave it on the toilet tank," Larry DeGraw commented after The Tribune's July 11 story "SLO police chief left her gun in a restaurant bathroom—now it's missing." "You put the gun in the crotch of your underwear while your pants are down. Kinda hard to pull your pants up with your pistol is in your pants."
Is that standard operating procedure, Larry, to "holster" your weapon in your underpants? What if you're a boxers gal? Maybe you like the easy breezy feeling of rolling commando. It seems there're no shortage of opinions about Cantrell's potentially lethal faux pas. According to SLO Mayor Heidi Harmon, the "keyboard cowards" have used the incident as "an opportunity to be as hateful and bigoted as possible."
At SLO's July 16 City Council meeting, Harmon praised Cantrell's transparency over reporting the incident: "This is what it looks like when you have the feminine in power in a very important position. She made a mistake, for which she took immediate, public, and transparent responsibility."
I'm feeling like Harmon is cheering on City Manager Derek Johnson, who went with the slap on the wrist and firearm-retraining route for disciplinary action against Cantrell.
As for Skeeter—poor, balding, badly dressed, dumbass Skeeter—they'll probably throw the book at him! Kids, if you see an unattended gun, don't touch it! Call the police! Do not, I repeat, do not stick it in your crotch! Δ
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