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Deputy Cleared in Fatal Shooting of Marine Sgt. Manny Loggins

District attorney admits deputy could have averted tragedy, but finds no evidence of criminal action in the controversial killing. Loggins' daughter reportedly told investigators her dad was acting "berserk" because of a religious fast.

No criminal charges will be filed against the Orange County sheriff's deputy who shot and killed Marine Sgt. Manny Levi Loggins Jr. in front of his daughters in February, the district attorney's office announced Friday.

At a 1 p.m. press conference, officials questioned some of Deputy Darren Sandberg's actions, but said the controversial shooting appeared reasonable and justified, so they were closing their inquiry.

Assistant D.A. and homicide unit head Dan Wagner and Senior Deputy D.A. Susan Price admitted Sandberg could have averted tragedy if he acted differently, but said there wasn't enough evidence to prove criminal charges.

In hindsight, deputies could have removed Loggins' daughters from the vehicle before their father returned – or shot out the SUV's tires to stop him from leaving, Price and Wagner noted in their report, which can be read in full in the PDF file accompanying this article.

Investigators interviewed more than 12 witnesses, including Loggins' daughters, and reviewed video from Sandberg's patrol car. Wagner said the D.A. would not release the video to the public.

Their findings:

On Feb. 7, Sandberg was near the end of his shift and completing paperwork in a parking lot at San Clemente High School when he heard screeching tires, according to the D.A. He then heard a loud crash and drove over to find that Loggins had driven his white GMC Yukon through a metal gate, dragging half of it with his vehicle before stopping a few dozen yards away.

According to the D.A., Loggins, 31, immediately left the car and headed toward the athletic fields, which he and his family had been visiting daily for a month to work out and study the Bible.

Loggins left the keys in the ignition and the driver's door open. He walked away from the vehicle, ignoring commands from Sandberg, who had pulled his patrol car behind the SUV and turned on its lights, officials said.

After Loggins walked away, Sandberg went to the SUV to speak with Loggins' 14-year-old and 9-year-old daughters. The 14-year-old, who told investigators she rode in the front seat that morning, had climbed into the back to comfort her sister, who began crying after the crash.

According to the D.A., the girls told Sandberg their father had been speeding during the drive north from Camp Pendleton and seemed angry. 

A religious fast in which he had abstained from food, liquids and Adderall, a medication he took for ADHD, had affected Loggins' behavior, his daughters told investigators after the shooting, according to the D.A. One of Loggins' daughters told investigators her father was going "berserk" as a result of the fast.

Loggins and his family were fasting for the church they attended in Irvine, officials said.

During Bible study at the field the day before the shooting, the 9-year-old told investigators she heard her father yell, "Get away, Satan."

More deputies arrived on the scene after Sandberg radioed in a suspected hit-and-run and child endangerment. The officers spread out to find Loggins, with one using a night-vision monocle, according to the D.A.

Sandberg wanted to use a Taser, but neither he nor another deputy had one, he told investigators. He did have pepper spray and a baton.

Seven minutes after Loggins left the SUV, deputies reported he was headed back toward the car. At 4:46 a.m., Sandberg drew his gun and told Loggins: "Show me your hands," the D.A.'s report said.

Loggins ignored Sandberg and continued toward the car, saying something that sounded like "I've got somewhere to go" and "Give me back my kids."

Sandberg noticed Loggins was holding something in his hand, but the deputy could not make out what it was. Deputies later discovered it was a Bible.

According to video taken from Sandberg's patrol car, the deputy had his gun drawn as he told Loggins: "Don't get in that car or I'll shoot you."

Twenty-seven seconds after Loggins emerged from the darkness of the athletic fields and began approaching the SUV, he got in the driver's seat, shut the door and put the vehicle into gear, according to the D.A.

Sandberg then shot Loggins three times. Sandberg said he opened fire because he believed Loggins' daughters would come to harm if the Marine drove off, he told investigators in a voluntary statement the day of the shooting.

One of Loggins' daughters reportedly told investigators: "I was afraid and I think the officer was too, so that's why he shot him, so we wouldn't get hurt."

Sandberg told investigators that the speed with which Loggins moved toward the deputies and the vehicle also influenced his decision to use his gun instead of his baton or pepper spray.

In reponse to the D.A.'s findings, Sheriff Sandra Hutchens issued a statement saying: “The Loggins family lost a beloved husband and father. Anytime someone’s life is taken, it’s a tragedy for all involved. The District Attorney’s office conducted a thorough investigation and we respect their conclusions.”

The D.A's version of events largely matched initial accounts released by the Association of Orange County Deputy Sheriffs, but added details gleaned from interviews, especially with his young daughters.

Sandberg told officials he believed Loggins was acting irrationally, as if he were "on a mission." Sandberg, a former Marine himself, told investigators he was unnerved by Loggins' refusal to obey orders from a uniformed officer.

A deputy standing near Sandberg as Loggins returned to the vehicle told investigators the Marine's jaw was clenched and his body rigid, leading the deputy to believe he was in a psychotic state or on drugs.

The official version of events has been criticized and challenged by Loggins' friends, Camp Pendleton brass and police-procedure experts interviewed by Patch.

In May, Loggins' widow and children filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the county.

The Loggins family attorney, Brian Dunn, criticized the D.A.'s report.

"We're very disappointed," Dunn told City News Service. "This is a very significant insult, combined with the most devastating injury one can imagine, and the family is very disappointed in the system, but committed to fighting this in the civil arena."

It is possible Loggins did not see the gate, which was sometimes closed and other times open when he visited the high school, Dunn told City News Service. (A school district spokesman told Patch, "In general, the gate is locked around 10:30 p.m. at night and opened around 6 a.m. on school days.")

The attorney said the deputy's explanation of what happened consisted of "self-serving statements."

UPDATE: On Oct. 3, Dunn added to his criticisms of the D.A. report. Click here to read the story.

Before the D.A. press conference, Camp Pendleton's commander, Brig. Gen. Vincent Coglianese, met with investigators and was told of their conclusions. In a press release issued Friday afternoon, he said:

"The death of Sgt. Loggins is tragic and unfortunate. While we respect the investigative process by the District Attorney's office, we continue to provide support to the Loggins family and they remain in our thoughts and prayers."

Chris McLaughlin October 03, 2012 at 06:38 AM
Thanks Pan, but I've already had one comment deleted from this article, so I'm sure they wouldn't give me a blog posting. I reposted it as a photo that's still visible on the iPhone version of this article, if you want to see my initial unprintable take on this decision by the DA. As far as administrative action, I think the next step is to ask the OC Board of Supervisors point blank, "Who is in charge of overseeing the Sheriff and the DA? Is Tony Rackauckas accountable to no one except the voters? Is their any review procedure in place for when a Supervisor feels the DA has made a bad decision??" Apparently they just had a meeting today, and the next one isn't for two weeks, but I need to go there and ask them to either agree with the findings or order a review, appeal, whatever means are available to address this lack of will to charge Deputy Sandberg with a crime.
Chris McLaughlin October 03, 2012 at 06:56 AM
The scope of this letter/investigation by the DA is not large enough to address the real causes of this incident, and I think it says that at the outset, that it doesn't try to serve that purpose, but someone ought to. One thing that has always struck me funny about it is the apparent disconnect between the idea that Loggins and his family would often go there at that time in the morning to walk, talk, and pray, and for some reason Sandberg was completely caught off guard when he drove through the gate with his Yukon. Sandberg was reported to have been in the parking lot doing reports, having checked the very gate that morning, but why wasn't he more aware of the Loggins family routine of going to the San Clemente HS's athletic fields at Oh Dark Thirty?? Was he new to that shift? Was he sitting there for the first time, and he usually sat somewhere else? Why was he there at all, to be able to catch people coming off of the freeway, or to be able to jump on the freeway to respond as needed? That makes sense, but then why wasn't he more aware of Loggins's usual routine, and not be so shocked that he would drive through the (usually open) gate? None of this was addressed in the letter, or apparently the investigation, beyond the background info and Facts section describing Loggins part of it. Did no one from the DA's office see the obvious issue with why Sandberg and Loggins weren't already more acquainted with each other?? Do they have a total lack of imagination??
Chris McLaughlin October 03, 2012 at 07:14 AM
The investigation needs to go back further in time to get at the root of why this tragedy occurred, and answer a few straightforward questions: Why was it locked? Who locked it? Was it actually usually open? Did Loggins usually park in the parking lot or was he usually able to drive right in to the service road?? We don't have to guess at the answers to these questions. There's a security camera directly over the gate in question. The video from it was linked in an earlier Patch article. It shows Loggins ramming through it, Sandberg's car blocking him in on the road, and the gurney being wheeled in empty and out with Loggins's body on it. So they need to find that video and see who locked that gate, and you would think the school's staff would keep records or just someone there would know whether or not it's usually keep open, and more importantly, why it was locked that morning (if that was abnormal). That is very important, because if that gate wasn't locked, then none of this probably would have happened. Loggins may have still speed into the parking lot and aroused Sandberg to engage him, but it would have been for speeding and not a 'hit-and-run with child endangerment'. Not a reason to unholster his gun, and not a reason for Loggins to be pushed over the edge thinking about the increase in car insurance premiums he would be facing. There's no mention of whether the gate was actually usually open in the DA's letter. Did they find that out??
Roy Rivenburg October 03, 2012 at 07:23 AM
In March, a school district spokesman told Patch: "In general, the gate is locked around 10:30 p.m. at night and opened around 6 a.m. on school days. The gate is located at the northwest corner of the main gymnasium. The gate has been there for 8-10 years or so."
Chris McLaughlin October 03, 2012 at 07:27 AM
Another good question that should be easy to answer, and wasn't touched on in the DA report at all: Was Sandberg usually there in that parking lot doing reports at the time, and had he seen Loggins and his family there before?? Two things that are important about that, are whether or not Sandberg had any familiarity with the Loggins Family routine at San Clemente HS, and how familiar with the athletic fields area was he? It seems pretty obvious to most people that know the area at all that there's really no where to go as far as driving off from the service road, but a big part of Sandberg's justification for shooting Loggins was that he was afraid he would drive off with the kids and hurt them. So, did he not know that there wasn't an easy exit from where his car was once he had him blocked in with his police car? If so, is it still reasonable to think Loggins would be able to drive off/get away with his kids in the car? As far as the familiarity with the Loggins Family routine, if Sandberg was usually sitting there in that parking lot doing reports at that time, and had seen Loggins and his wife and kids do their thing there before, that changes the whole dynamics of this case. I don't know if the DA would still stick their head in the sand and say it doesn't matter what Sandberg may have known about the routine of what he was intervening in, but for any reasonable person (i.e. potential juror trying Sandberg for a crime), it would make a huge difference...
jb October 03, 2012 at 01:21 PM
@Chris McLaughlin, Are you planning to write a book about this incident? You might sell a dozen or so. Your accusations are getting very creative. I have a few questions as well. I think it it very unusual for a parent to wake his children up at such an early hour to go work out and study the bible. The report states that Loggins had been doing this for a month. The average 7-12 year old need 10-11 hours of sleep a night, the average 12-18 year old needs 8-9 hours. Assuming my calculations are correct, unless the 9 year went to bed at 5-6 pm and the 14 year at 7-8 pm, these kids were not allowed to get enough sleep, something I consider at the least bad parenting and could be considered child abuse. Did the school or school district give permission to Loggins to use the track? The schools in my district are locked up when not in use, so I find it odd that Loggins was able to use the facilities at all. Did the school or school district make a statement about this incident?
Panglonymous October 03, 2012 at 03:04 PM
REGARDING THE MANUFACTURING OF "TRUTH", it might be useful to review the series of statements made by the Sheriffs Dept and the Deputys Union in the days immediately following the shooting:
Panglonymous October 03, 2012 at 03:05 PM
FEB 7 (Tue) - Loggins shot FEB 9 (Thu) - OCSD Press conference: The deputy pulled up behind Loggins, who got out of the car and walked toward the athletic field, ignoring orders by the deputy, Amormino said. Then, Loggins stopped and returned to the Yukon where "SOMETHING HAPPENED THAT MADE THE DEPUTY FEAR FOR HIS LIFE." [my emphasis] Precisely what that was is "under investigation," Amormino said. http://sanclemente.patch.com/articles/marine-killed-by-deputy-id-ed-by-friends
Joker Joe October 03, 2012 at 03:05 PM
jb You are completely right. The children should not of been up that early so kill him. The school did not give permission so kill him. You are a moron... so quit typing!!! You do nothing to enhance the gene pool!!!
Panglonymous October 03, 2012 at 03:06 PM
Feb 10 (Fri) - OCSD Statement: "Due to Loggins' failure to follow the commands and his irrational behavior, including statements he made, THE DEPUTY HAD A DEEP CONCERN FOR THE SAFETY OF THE CHILDREN," Amormino said. "In the deputy's mind, it was unsafe for [Loggins] to drive away with the girls." [my emphasis] ... AMORMINO ACKNOWLEDGED THAT THIS VERSION OF EVENTS DIFFERS FROM AN EARLIER ACCOUNT RELEASED BY THE SHERIFF'S DEPARTMENT, in which the deputy reportedly opened fire because he feared for his own life. "THE REAL THREAT WAS FOR THE LIVES OF THE CHILDREN," Amormino said Friday. In a case like this, "some information becomes immediately available and some takes longer to get because witnesses have to be interviewed," he noted. AMORMINO SAID THIS ACCOUNT CAME FROM THE DEPUTY WHO FIRED THE SHOTS. [my emphases] http://sanclemente.patch.com/articles/deputy-who-shot-marine-says-loggins-was-irrational-and-children-were-endangered
GreenInOC October 03, 2012 at 03:06 PM
@jb, Mormons do it all the time, it's called Seminary and it's Monday through Friday. You infer child abuse while at the same time stating that @Chris McLaughlin's accusations are "creative"?! Absurd.
Panglonymous October 03, 2012 at 03:08 PM
FEB 14 (Tue) - Association of OC Deputy Sheriffs (Union) statement: [THE UNION] ASSERTS THAT THE DEPUTY WHO OPENED FIRE... SAVED LOGGINS' TWO DAUGHTERS AND OTHER MOTORISTS FROM POSSIBLE HARM. ... “It is heartbreaking that MANUEL LOGGINS CREATED A SITUATION THAT PUT HIS CHILDREN IN DANGER AND ULTIMATELY COST HIM HIS LIFE,” [spokesman] Dominguez said. ... 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. http://sanclemente.patch.com/articles/deputies-union-defends-marine-shooting
Panglonymous October 03, 2012 at 03:10 PM
SEP 28 (Sun) - DA Report issued. p.10 "In applying the above legal principles to the facts of this case, THE MOST PROMINENT JUSTIFICATION TO BE CONSIDERED IS THE ONE CLAIMED BY DEPUTY SANDBERG: DEFENSE OF OTHERS. [my emphasis] For that justification to apply, three elements must be present: 1) Deputy Sandberg actually believed he needed to shoot Loggins in order to defend against an imminent threat of great bodily injury to the girls; 2) That belief must have been reasonable under the circumstances; 3) Deputy Sandberg must have used no more force than was reasonably necessary to defend against the threat. In order to obtain a criminal conviction for this shooting, the evidence must, beyond a reasonable doubt, disprove the existence of a legal justification. In other words, if a reasonable doubt exists as to whether the justification applies, the shooter is entitled to an acquittal." http://sanclemente.patch.com/articles/deputy-xxx-in-loggins-shooting-death#pdf-11527145 http://www.orangecountyda.com/docs/manuel_loggins_ois_investigation_letter.pdf
Panglonymous October 03, 2012 at 03:25 PM
To quote David Secor above: Justice, and truth, are no longer the goals of those mandated to protect and serve. The D.A. and law enforcement agencies involved circle the wagons. The goal now is to create a scenario that ends with a forgone conclusion: An unfortunate series of events ended tragically, but we found no reason to believe the actions of the officer involved were in any way criminal, or worthy of prosecution. http://sanclemente.patch.com/articles/deputy-xxx-in-loggins-shooting-death#comment_4886252
Panglonymous October 03, 2012 at 03:28 PM
@Roy Did this info make it into any Patch piece on Loggins?
Panglonymous October 03, 2012 at 03:39 PM
Chris, can't access the screenshot of your deleted comment. Maybe upload it to an image hosting site and link it in a comment? Can't imagine Patch editors wouldn't solicit you to write on this - what could be more demonstrative of a Patch citizen/journalist collaboration to develop a critical hyperlocal story with countywide (and larger) implications? Editors?
jb October 03, 2012 at 03:49 PM
@greeninoc, "Mormons do it all the time, it's called Seminary and it's Monday through Friday." I don't care, I still consider it to be at least bad parenting. It is really up to the experts to determine if is actually child abuse. I do not know anything about the mormon church, nor do I care to learn anything about the mormon church. Was Loggins mormon? That is not the issue. "You infer child abuse while at the same time stating that @Chris McLaughlin's accusations are "creative"?! Absurd." - Chris McLaughlin stated "As far as the familiarity with the Loggins Family routine, if Sandberg was usually sitting there in that parking lot doing reports at that time, and had seen Loggins and his wife and kids do their thing there before, that changes the whole dynamics of this case. I don't know if the DA would still stick their head in the sand and say it doesn't matter what Sandberg may have known about the routine of what he was intervening in, but for any reasonable person (i.e. potential juror trying Sandberg for a crime), it would make a huge difference...". - This statement is so completely absurd, I used the term creative to be polite. @booboo, all I can say to you is PLEASE GET SOME HELP!
Joker Joe October 03, 2012 at 04:01 PM
Scott Spencer Not in tune with your diatribe. Who is Lindsey Graham? Big Al should be here taking up this cause. It might not generate as much publicly as he is used to but this is a righteous cause.
Chris McLaughlin October 03, 2012 at 06:15 PM
Thanks JB, but I'm not planning on writing a book or trying to profit in any way from this tragedy. My interest is justice for all involved: the Loggins family, Deputy Sandberg, the City of San Clemente, the people of Orange County. You do have a point though with the criticisms of Loggins dragging his kids out of bed at that early hour on a regular basis. When I say you have a point, I mean that several other people said the exact same thing when this story first broke last February, so you're not alone in being critical of that. Also, you have very valid questions about whether or not the fields at the High School were supposed to be available at that time for that purpose. Maybe they weren't. Maybe Sandberg was there specifically to find out who was breaking the rules by being there at that hour. The DA's report stated he checked earlier to make sure the gate was locked, but then goes no further on the backstory of whether it was usually locked, supposed to be locked, or when did it start being locked. Those are my questions... BTW, there's a new article up on the SC Patch about this story, so generally people stop commenting on this one and go to the latest article on it...
Joker Joe October 03, 2012 at 06:46 PM
Chris McLaughlin It sounds to me like you are putting credence into jb's child abuse theory. Both of you are missing the point. The point being, is the KILL justified?
Roy Rivenburg October 03, 2012 at 07:57 PM
The Loggins family's attorney responds to the D.A. report: http://sanclemente.patch.com/articles/loggins-attorney-da-shooting-findings-biased
Chris McLaughlin October 03, 2012 at 08:00 PM
No, Bo, I'm not putting credence into JB's child abuse theory. I'm acknowledging that others have the same theory, and that it's a legitimate concern for many (not me, but many), one that I think Deputy Sandberg probably had himself. If it's based on Sandberg seeing Loggins at the parking lot before, and making sure the gate was locked now so that he couldn't drive his car onto the access road anymore, then I think that changes this case completely from a cop reacting to an incident out of the blue to a cop laying in wait to bust an irresponsible/unfit parent. Apparently Sandberg used to be something of a spokesperson for the MV Police Services, as he's quoted repeatedly in the OC Register's Police Blotter pages as speaking for the MV Police. In one incident in 2010, the cops almost remove an 11-month old from his Dad because his Dad left him in the car to go to the store, explaining the right's of the Police to take children away from their parents under the Welfare and Institution Code: http://www.ocregister.com/news/sandberg-242339-child-car.html What's really chilling at the end of this article, is Sandberg's statement about parental responsibility for their children: "Be a good parent," Sandberg said. "Take your kid with you." Ironically, Loggins was trying to take his kids with him when Sandberg decided it was in the children's best interest to kill their Dad in front of them in a hail of bullets. I hope this comes up at the civil trial...
Joker Joe October 03, 2012 at 08:30 PM
Thanks for the response Chris but the ONLY thing to be questioned is was the killing justified. If we throw in the fact that the kids were up early it skews the question of a righteous kill. If we say Loggins was on a fast and he went nuts because of it, we are not getting to the point of the kill. What we really need to know is what was Sandberg's state of mind after being awakened by Loggins hitting the gate. We will never know the truth about that but we have many guesses about the dead Marine. Does something seem wrong????
Chris McLaughlin October 03, 2012 at 08:37 PM
Hi Pan, the photo's still there, on an iPhone view of it, but not the full website. On both versions you can see the photo I posted of an aerial view from Google Maps of the service road and lack of easy exits for a vehicle blocked in from the gate. On an earlier article, I think uploaded a photo of the gate itself, from the parking lot. I'll try to find that one and link it.
Chris McLaughlin October 03, 2012 at 08:46 PM
Pan, here's what the gate looks like in broad daylight. I should go back and take one at 5 a.m. for comparison on the lighting and close ups of the signage. This was taken during Spring Break this year, when school was not in session, and the gate is wide open. Whoever has the video from this security camera needs to provide the several hours earlier from the moment of impact, to see if Sandberg is on there checking the gate, and to determine when/who locked it. It would be nice to go back several weeks in time on this footage and baseline whether it truly was usually locked, and substantiate the Loggins Family usual routine, but that's probably asking for too much as far as them maintaining that much footage for this much time: http://sanclemente.patch.com/articles/security-video-shows-loggins-crash-paramedics-in-shooting-incident#photo-9548359
Peter Schelden (Editor) October 03, 2012 at 08:51 PM
Pan, Chris's original comment was deleted because it contained one profanity. I e-mailed Chris twice and encouraged him to repost it in its entirety, with the exception of that one profanity. And Chris, you are more than welcome to blog on Patch. You can get started by following this link: http://sanclemente.patch.com/blog/apply
Sharon Luckett October 04, 2012 at 03:22 PM
When was manny diagnosed with ADHD? After he was murdered I guess. This report is garbage and people are commenting on a one sided story that's not even a good cover up story. And it's get ye behind me satan not get away satan. What's more said is how they lie on mannys children to make it seem like the children where in danger so they can justify killing manny. which they were in danger but not by manny by the officer that murdered him.
Suphie Wesner November 21, 2012 at 07:10 PM
Mm-mm-mm. What a cryin' shame. For crying out loud. Lol. ~SUPHIE
Scott Spencer November 21, 2012 at 11:54 PM
Sorry for the misunderstanding. You're right, Big Al should be here taking up this cause!
Joker Joe November 23, 2012 at 04:49 PM
Scott The U.S. attorney, Eric Holder, who is black, should also be investigating this case. It stinks.

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