Tatiana’s Prelim 2: Sheriffs with Amnesia! (UPDATE – the Trial Will Proceed. And Benediction.)

(Read pt 1: Brian Willis’ Testimony.)

Most of the witnesses in the second and third day of Tatiana’s preliminary hearing were OC Sheriffs, investigators, or Sheriff/investigators.  (The defense called no witnesses.)  And THIS happened so many times it seemed like a pattern:

First, the Sheriff or investigator would tell the DA, Israel Claustro, everything he wanted to hear.  (The Public Defender, Alisha Montoro, established at one point that all these prosecution witnesses were regularly talking to each other in the hall about their testimony, which they’re not supposed to do.)  And then Montoro, a thorough, aggressive and persistent questioner who had read every word of these men’s reports, would ask them something they should know, that would be exculpatory to Tatiana, to help her prove her self-defense claim.

And they would draw a blank, and “not recall.”  Even when it was something very interesting that would seem hard to forget.  And she’d say, “If you looked at your report, would that refresh your memory?”  And, often, they would say no.  Then she’d say, “If you looked at the transcript of your interview, would THAT refresh your memory?”  And sometimes they’d STILL say no, sometimes with a smart-alecky grin, and question whether the transcript was even accurate.  And then she’d say, “If you heard the AUDIO of the interview, would THAT refresh your memory?”  And thus a lot of time would get wasted, but that was the only way Alisha Montoro could get them to admit to parts of their investigations that would help Tatiana.

And so, some of these men’s testimony will be reported in two sections – what they willingly told, and what had to be dragged out of them.

Helicopter Deputy Sheriff Garcia

Up in the sky, in a ‘copter named Duke, Sheriff Garcia watched the chaos below – about 50 “Trumpies” pouring into the library lot a little after 2pm to confront the BLM group, and a little later about 200 more Trumpies.  From up there he couldn’t see much detail, or hear anything at all. A little after 2:30 he descended to 300 feet and announced that this was an “unlawful assembly,” and folks below had TEN MNUTES to disperse or they could be subject to “less lethal munitions.”  Five minutes after THAT he made a second announcement, giving the crowd five more minutes to disperse, and it was during that announcement that the “collision” occurred.

Deputy Sheriffs Pritchard and Trujillo

Deputies fleeing (dramatization)

These two Deputy Sheriffs have each patrolled Yorba Linda for 9-10 years.  They were both in the library lot at the time, and spent some time trying to get the two sides to stop fighting, and to get the crowd to disperse.  After a while they gave up and both “retreated for their own safety.”  When they saw Tatiana take off in her Nissan and hit a couple of people, they both ran after her with their guns drawn (but “not pointed at her”) and they both heard her say to them, “I’m scared.”  As she drove out onto the street they saw the crowd chasing her, breaking her windows with flagpoles and fists, and shattering her back windshield.

Trujillo spoke with a witness named George P. who was wearing a “Black BEHAVIOR Matters” teeshit – George told him that he had come to the library lot to “block BLM,” that he had jumped on the hood of Tatiana’s Nissan, and that just before she took off he heard her say, “Fuck this.”   Pritchard, meanwhile, was approached by notorious Proud Boy Michael “Mick Florio” Sobczak, who claimed he saw Tatiana turn her wheel sharply to the right as though she purposely wanted to hit Willis.  Not a very credible source there, and it is Danielle Lindgren that Tatiana is being accused of “attempting to murder.”

“Deputy Lacuna”

This was a longtime OCSD investigator in Yorba Linda who had forgotten so much of his investigation, much of it important, that rather than embarrass him I am calling him Deputy Lacuna, a word signifying a GAP in a memory or piece or literature, a word you may remember from the movie “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.”  (His real name was Hume.)

This was the guy who questioned the other victim, Danielle Lindgren, in UCI hospital as she was treated for having her back and back of her head run over.  Danielle had been at the protest with her father Terry Lindgren.  As Montoro later established, Deputy Lacuna questioned them both, father and daughter, together, which is not exactly the professional way to do things.

Danielle Lindgren

They told him that they were both standing on the south side of Imperial by Mimi’s when Terry claimed to “see Antifa” and got the notion, around 2:30, to cross the street and yell at them that they “weren’t gonna riot there.”  Danielle followed across the street, partly to keep an eye on her dad. Terry told the Deputy that all they were doing was “pushing the protesters back” and “trying to get them to disperse.”  Danielle’s memory of the day is spotty because of her head injury (a LEGIT lacuna!) but as she stood in front of the Nissan, watching her dad a few feet over, she pulled her baton out of her backpack “because things were starting to get scary.”  This was seconds before the car moved forward, bumping her dad’s knee, knocking and running her over.

What had to be dragged out of Deputy Lacuna: 

Refusing to consult his notes or the transcripts, Deputy Lacuna just couldn’t remember but it’s true:  Danielle’s father Terry told him that right before the collision “punches were thrown;” and also, the “protesters were leaving, they were breaking up and walking away.”  Lacuna also claims to have no memory of talking to a Trumpy witness named David Chambers, who told him that Terry was not actually hit by the Nissan, but sort of “pushed off it.”  Lacuna also has no memory of Chambers telling him that he and his friends were “throwing water bottles” at the Nissan before it moved forward, and that “there was violence, people were getting hit, and SOME PEOPLE WERE DRAWING BLADES.”  It seems hard to forget all that, after you wrote it all down, and then supposedly consulted your notes beforehand.  So, “people” were “drawing blades,” eh?

DA Claustro quickly pointed out that Trumpy witness Chambers didn’t tell Deputy Lacuna WHICH people were “drawing blades.”  But I think that a Trumpy witness wouldn’t have phrased it like that, if it were the other side, the BLM protesters, who were drawing blades.

Seal Beach Detective Bruno Balderrama

Best known web image of Seal Beach Det. Balderrama.

Some of Spitzer’s/Claustro’s charges against Tatiana relate to a protest a month earlier in Seal Beach; they charge her with two counts of “assault with a deadly weapon” there, for beating counterprotesters Doug Renick and Charlie Powell with a stick.  Balderrama, distinguished by a stylin’ mustache like the one to the left, was there to help the prosecutor make those two charges stick, and he frequently grinned, especially when either attorney objected to the other’s questions.

Renick had told the detective that he’d come to observe the protest, and been chased by several protesters into the PCH intersection.  There he found himself in a scuffle where he was hit on the head with a stick, possibly by Tatiana, and later required staples on his scalp, although he managed to drive himself home first.  Renick didn’t want to press charges, and instead put the detective in touch with his old friend Powell. 

Powell told the detective he was a “student of history” who showed up because he wanted to see what “tactics” the protesters would use.  He was already pissed off by Tatiana’s “caravan” of cars and pedestrians crossing through a red light and getting in the way of some elderly people, when he saw his friend Renick getting chased, and followed.  A scuffle ensued – Powell  told the detective he “was attacked,” “struck twice by Tatiana Turner,” and pepper-sprayed by “unknown people.”  And we were shown a video of a jumpy Powell running away from a crowd, and ending up in an indecipherable melee, over which you can see Tatiana swinging a stick.

What had to be dragged out of Balderrama:

Click for larger three views of “victim” Charlie Powell that day.

These are things that TOTALLY slipped the detective’s mind until Montoro forced him to recall and admit them:  Both Renick and Powell had been seen and videotaped hitting people themselves before the melee with TT.  The person Powell hit, in the face, perhaps in confusion, was a woman.  Renick didn’t want to file charges because he was already on probation from his teaching job for various wild behaviors; when he spoke to the detective on the phone he “sounded drunk,” was “uncooperative,” and “couldn’t remember much.”  There is another widely seen video of Powell punching the female protester in the face, Powell spent much of the event carrying some large homemade wooden spear, AND in the video Balderrama DID show the court, the sound was conveniently muted, or we would have heard Tatiana yelling “LEAVE HIM ALONE!”

Lead Investigator Roberto Miranda

Miranda looked a little like Ed Harris.

Miranda was the head investigator for this case and had learned and observed more about it than the others; Montoro was all like, “Why did we save this guy till the last day when we should have started with him?” [Implying “instead of all these other bozos?”]  Miranda viewed the carnage impassively from the vantage point of a library balcony.  Around 2:45 he observed Tatiana first move her Nissan out of a parking stall to a place NEAR the exit but within the crowd.  And Miranda saw dozens of “Trump supporters” immediately “converge” on the car and start hitting it.  (And Spitzer calls this “staging?”)

A big goal of the prosecution is to defeat Tatiana’s self-defense claim by showing that there were no guns at the protest, or that nobody saw any guns, or that Tatiana had no reason to think there were guns, as she claimed in her near-hysterical 911 call.  The farthest Miranda would go was to testify that “Nobody told me they were being SHOT AT.”

Miranda talked to Elise Bass, who provided him with footage of a Joshua Evans who claimed Tatiana assaulted him, hit him twice with a baton and “jabbed him with a taser.”  He talked to William Ferguson, who admitted to being “involved in an altercation,” a “scuffle with a male,” and then a female sprayed something at him that made his “face feel on fire” – footage provided by Tomas Morales showed that to be Tatiana with a pink spray-can.  (Miranda asked none of these folks if they were armed or saw anyone else armed.)

Tyerae Bailey

Miranda talked to Tyerae Bailey … wait .. WE KNOW TYERAE BAILEY!  He’s that young black HB man, who, doing security for a July 2020 BLM protest in Anaheim, was hit by a police cruiser that WE think was driven by union head Edgar Hampton but can’t prove it..

Tyerae told Miranda in October that he had “been there as security for the protest,” actively in the crowd BETWEEN the groups.  He’d known Tatiana a while, and saw her on the “front line,” and pulled her back – he said she had a “protection item” but didn’t say what it was.  And he said he saw no guns, and nobody had told him about any guns.

As the prosecutor and Miranda discussed Bailey, he gradually became, in their telling, “THE HEAD OF SECURITY,” to give more weight to his no-gun testimony.  A BLM girl was next to me at that point, and asked me, “Hey, when did Tyerae morph into HEAD of security?” And I answered “Yeah, you know him? He’s just a kid.”  But there was a lot more Tyerae told Miranda that had to be … DRAGGED OUT OF HIM BY MONTORO.

What Tyerae told Miranda, that had to be dragged out of Miranda by Montoro:

On the PD’s stubborn cross-examination, the investigator admitted that the “head of security” told him that the “Trumpers” had knives, were using flagpoles as weapons, they had bear spray, they were throwing things and swinging metal bars.  Tatiana kept “getting pushed” by them, and she asked them to “Step away.  I need you to back up.”  They were “pursuing her aggressively.”  Tyerae told Tatiana, “Scoot back, I got this,” and she said okay.

Tyerae saw the “Trumpers tampering with her car,” saw them “wielding weapons, including homemade weapons,” jabbing at the Nissan with flagpoles and trying to break her windows.  She “had no supporters around her.”  Tyerae felt “trapped in the lot,” and said the protesters did as well, and there were no police around to help.

And as Montoro mentioned there is well-known video of a tank-topped flag-bearing slob kicking the back of Tatiana’s Nissan HARD, a split second before she moves forward.  Miranda admitted to having watched that clip multiple times, “but it is impossible to tell if the car moves forward before or after the kick.”  Come on!  If the car had already started to move forward, this chud couldn’t have gotten in such a solid donkey kick, with such a resonant thud.  (To nobody’s surprise, neither Miranda nor any other law enforcement have attempted to identify or locate or question the Kicking Chud.)

Was Tatiana lying or crazy when she thought and claimed that there were folks there with guns?  Well, a counterprotester named Dalton Rocheleau was there, and had tangled with Tatiana in the past – they knew each other.  He had announced on social media that he was going to buy a rifle and bring it to this protest; and he did buy a b-b gun rifle, but decided to leave it at home. 

Dalton told Miranda that there were “way more of us Trump supporters than there were of them,” and that “my group was getting aggressive!”  Dalton himself was standing by the Nissan, “yelling insults” at Tatiana and “trying to fire her up!”  He told Miranda that when she got into her car the last time,  she was telling everyone, “Get away!  Get away!”   And then she looked over at him, Dalton, thinking he was armed, and cried out, “DALTON!”

We mentioned the witness Elise Bass a little earlier, as someone questioned by Miranda, and Miranda was aware of a certain video containing the following dialogue between Elise and Tatiana, although he never questioned Elise about it:

TATIANA: We’re being threatened with guns, we’re just trying to stay safe!
ELISE: Did they show you guns?
TATIANA: They posted [on social media] that they have guns.
ELISE: Cuz when they organized on Facebook the organizers said to bring guns.

It seems to me, Tatiana’s self-defense claim is solid.

IMPORTANT UPDATE

Judge Beatriz Gordon

While writing up this report I received the information we’ve all been waiting for – Judge Beatriz Gordon has determined that there IS enough evidence to proceed to trial with the most serious of the charges.  This means the DA will have to prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, to a jury of 12, that Tatiana is guilty of attempted murder, mayhem, and several charges of assault.  That first charge especially seems difficult to prove.

When will the trial be?  I do not know yet.  Here is the Register report, from Sean Emery (a real nice guy.) 

*********************

This trial is like one battleground, a southern California battleground, in America’s current Civil War.  And we have a DA, desperate to be re-elected, who has chosen his side in that Civil War.

I know that a lot of the “Trumpies,” from the south side of Imperial Highway, really felt that they were defending their beloved town from something very scary and violent – that is what they had heard about Black Lives Matter and “Antifa,” and that’s what all their friends had heard.  And when Tatiana ran two of them over I’m sure some of them thought, “See, they all really want to kill us.”

And over here on the north side of Imperial Highway, those of us who sympathize with Tatiana’s philosophy and admire her courage and character, while we regret the incident, we believe that she was legit scared and didn’t mean to hurt or kill anyone.

Let’s hope there’s a time soon when the folks on each side don’t think the other side is all inhuman monsters.  And let’s each work each day to hasten that time, by getting to know each other.  As I wrote last time (though I may have stolen it from somewhere)…

 “We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies.
Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection.
The mystic chords of memory will swell when again touched, as surely they will be,
by the better angels of our nature.”


About Vern Nelson

Greatest pianist/composer in Orange County, and official troubador of both Anaheim and Huntington Beach (the two ends of the Santa Ana Aquifer.) Performs regularly both solo, and with his savage-jazz quintet The Vern Nelson Problem. Reach at vernpnelson@gmail.com, or 714-235-VERN.