Please help me help out a friend of mine who has been falsely accused of a crime - all for simply trying to protect his community. This is an upstanding citizen who loves, supports, and contributes to his community. (Given the current political climate, he would prefer that I not use his real name - in order to protect his family, home, and place of work from any potential violence or vandalism.)
On May 30th, rioters vandalized, looted, and set fire to multiple buildings in the East San Diego County city of La Mesa. In response, many residents of the nearby communities of Santee and Lakeside formed neighborhood watch groups to provide extra eyes and ears for law enforcement, determined to prevent the same from happening in their community.
One night shortly afterwards, three vehicles were observed driving through town. There were individuals wearing masks, dressed in black, hanging off the sides of the vehicles, smashing car windows with bats as they drove past. There was also an unconfirmed report of physical assault upon a member of the community by these same individuals. Unfortunately, they were able to get away before police could catch them.
On the night of July 25th, my friend saw an SUV which matched the description of a vehicle from that incident . It was packed full of people, driving slowly, making erratic, illegal turns. My friend followed at a distance to see whether there was any behavior worth reporting to law enforcement. The SUV pulled into an apartment complex and my friend parked on the street to see if it would come back out. They must have noticed him tailing them, because shortly thereafter, two cars pulled right upon along my friend - the drivers stared him down, then made U-turns and tore off down the street. This was somewhat suspicious behavior, so again, he followed to observe whether there was anything to report to law enforcement. He turned around a blind corner, only to find that the two cars were blocking the road in front of him. A young African-American man hopped out of one of the cars and came towards my friend with his hand tucked under his shirt as if reaching for a weapon. My friend has a concealed carry permit and had a handgun in a bag on his front seat, so he quickly reached for it, defensively.
The young man got up to my friend’s driver window, saw the gun on his lap, then jumped back, cursing and yelling at him. Wanting to deescalate the situation, my friend backed up around the blind corner, risking driving into traffic. He radioed in to his community watch group to have someone call the police, then parked down the street to keep an eye on the situation. The police arrived shortly thereafter, but when they did, the other man accused my friend of brandishing a weapon. And though he had requested the police, ironically, he ended up getting arrested.
Here is audio of the incident:
At the station, my friend explained everything to the deputies who arrested him. They couldn’t find a reason to book him, and seemed like they were about to let him walk - but then they went and talked with their sergeant (whom my friend never met). The sergeant told them to book him. So he got processed and spent the night in jail. Thankfully, someone from the community watch group works in the bail bonds industry and was able to assist him in getting a bond so he could get out the next morning.
But now he faces potential felony charges , had his firearm confiscated, and could spend as much as three years in prison if convicted. All for simply trying to protect his community!
I have known my friend for years and I can tell you that I have never heard him utter a racist sentiment. Neither is he the type of person who would go out looking for a fight. But he is absolutely the type of person who will stand up for his community, even if that means putting himself in harm’s way. My friend simply grabbed his gun (which he can lawfully carry) to have it ready should he need it. He never pointed it at the other individual. (Even if he had, it is lawful to point a weapon defensively - and the other man was posturing as if he were carrying a gun.) Given the circumstances, these charges don’t make sense. We are convinced that the sheriff is simply afraid of being labelled racist and is therefore unwilling to dismiss charges made by a black individual against a white individual. It is an understandable fear, since any community labelled as racist in these times faces the threat of riots and destruction on a massive scale. But it is not right that innocent, responsible members of the community get sent to jail as a sacrificial offering.I’d humbly like to request that anyone reading this consider contributing $25 to my friend’s legal defense. He is a hardworking, responsible, single father of two boys, and this is a massive unexpected expense. Of course, any amount would be greatly appreciated. Funds raised will be put towards legal fees, including, but not necessarily limited to: lawyers, court fees, a private investigator, and a polygraph exam. The fundraising platform charges a small processing fee, and a small percentage will be used to manage and promote this campaign. Thank you for your time and consideration, and thank you for any help you can offer.