The deputy who fatally shot Marine Sgt. Manny Loggins in the parking lot of San Clemente High School last week was justified and prevented further danger, Orange County's police union said Tuesday in a statement.
“The Manuel Loggins described by his friends and loved ones in the media is not the Manuel Loggins encountered by our deputies the morning of Feb. 7," said Tom Dominguez, president of the Association of Orange County Deputy Sheriffs.
Even Loggins' young daughters, sitting in the back seat, told deputies their father had been behaving strangely that morning, Dominguez said.
The Association of Orange County Deputy Sheriffs asserts that the deputy who opened fire, himself a four-year Marine veteran and a 15-year veteran of the Orange County Sheriff's Department, saved Loggins' two daughters and other motorists from possible harm.
The deputy has twice been awarded the department’s Medal for Lifesaving and the Medal of Courage, the union press release said.
“It is heartbreaking that Manuel Loggins created a situation that put his children in danger and ultimately cost him his life,” Dominguez said. "It is unfortunate that his actions put his own children into immediate danger and resulted in his death."
The following is a narrative of the shooting directly from the union press release, which adds details previously not made public. The account was based on information provided by the deputy's attorney:
On February 7, 2012, at around 4:30 in the morning, Manuel Loggins Jr., 31, driving with his two daughters, 9 and 14, unseatbelted in the back seat of his GMC Yukon, plowed through a locked gate at San Clemente High School.
The force of the crash left sections of the gate embedded in the bottom of the Yukon and drew the attention of an on-duty sheriff’s deputy who was in an adjacent parking lot writing reports.
After coming to a stop, Loggins got out of the Yukon, ignored repeated orders from the uniformed deputy sheriff, and walked off into the dark, abandoning his two daughters left behind in the Yukon. The deputy began to follow Loggins on foot when he heard children’s screams coming from the car. The deputy then returned to the Yukon, and found Loggins’ two girls.
Loggins, now in a darkened part of the adjacent field, could be heard yelling irrational statements. The deputy radioed for immediate assistance, informing dispatchers of a hit-and-run accident and child endangerment situation.
Additional sheriff’s personnel arrived and comforted the children in the back seat. Loggins’ children told deputies their father had been acting oddly. A few minutes later, Loggins unexpectedly and quickly returned to his Yukon. Deputies repeatedly ordered him to stop. Loggins did not stop, ignoring the deputies who now had their weapons drawn, and got into the driver’s side of the car, despite multiple warnings.
Deputies warned Loggins not to start the car. Loggins ignored these and repeated other warnings, started the Yukon and placed it in gear. It was then clear that Loggins was going to drive off and further endanger the children. As the Yukon began to move forward, he was shot by the deputy next to the driver’s window. The car was stopped, the children were removed and medical aid was rendered to Loggins, who did not survive.
In a phone interview Tuesday afternoon, Dominguez acknowledged it was unusual for the union to speak out while an officer-involved shooting was still under investigation. But he said some early reports in the media were in error.
The Sheriff's Department . A few days later, the , issuing an account more in line with the union narrative above, although not as detailed.
Dominguez said union officials felt an obligation to the deputy and to the community to set the record straight.
However, a number of questions remain unanswered.
For instance, when asked why deputies didn't immediately remove Loggins' daughters from the Yukon, or didn't use their patrol cars to block him from driving away, rather than resorting to deadly force, Dominguez said he couldn't respond because he wasn't on-scene and didn't interview the deputy or other witnesses.
"The facts about the particular case as we know them are outlined in the narrative," he said. "I can't address specific circumstances that aren't outlined in the release."
Dominguez also wouldn't comment on whether the union would play a legal role in defending the deputy if Loggins' family sued him or the department.
"It's way to early to even discuss that," he said.
Meanwhile, the deputy who did the shooting may be back patrolling his beat.
Department policy requires deputies involved in any kind of traumatic incident to take three shifts off. Most deputy work weeks consist of three, 12-hour shifts, with every other weekend as a four-day weekend, but the deputy's personal work schedule is not available, Dominguez said.
Meanwhile, Loggins' family in Joliet, Ill., told a Patch editor there that they were not yet ready to speak to the press.
"I can't tell you anything," Manuel L. Loggins Sr. told the Shorewood, Ill., Patch editor. "I don't know anything."