Sheriff Denounces Attorney's Press Release On Civil Litigation Settlement
Santa Barbara- October 22nd, 2012
Sheriff Bill Brown denounced today’s press release from the law offices of A. Barry Cappello pertaining to a civil settlement between Cappello’s office and the County of Santa Barbara. The County agreed to settle a lawsuit brought by Jose Arredondo and his family following a tragic vehicular accident involving an intoxicated wrong way driver in 2009.
While Sheriff Brown recognizes that this was an extraordinarily tragic event, and has extended condolences to the Arredondo Family on behalf of all the men and women of the Sheriff’s Office, he strongly disagrees with the press release issued by Mr. Capello. “While Mr. Cappello blames this tragedy on the County and a Sheriff’s deputy, the real cause of this heartbreaking criminal event was Richard Rodriguez, whose reckless behavior in using illegal drugs, drinking alcohol to excess and then driving the wrong way on the freeway is the real cause of this tragedy.” Rodriguez was convicted of gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, with gross negligence. He is currently serving a 13 year sentence in state prison. “The reason the County and the Sheriff’s Office were named in this lawsuit is that the county has the deep pockets and the drunk driver had no assets.”
On November 8, 2009, in the early morning hours, Richard Rodriguez was driving northbound in the southbound lanes of US 101 at Fairview Avenue in Goleta. He narrowly missed a patrol sergeant who was driving southbound on the freeway. A radio broadcast from the sergeant alerted another patrol deputy, who was at Glen Annie and US 101. That deputy attempted to locate the wrong way driver by slowly driving down the southbound freeway on-ramp. As the deputy was merging onto the freeway, with his rear amber emergency light activated, the suspect vehicle quickly approached going northbound in the southbound #1 lane. The sheriff’s deputy activated his revolving emergency lights in an attempt to stop the wrong way driver, but seconds later the intoxicated driver collided with an oncoming vehicle in the number one lane. The collision resulted in two fatalities and serious injuries to two other victims. The sheriff’s deputy who witnessed this horrific accident immediately provided aid to the victims. The CHP subsequently arrested Rodriguez, who sustained only minor injuries from the crash and had a blood alcohol content of .22, which is almost 3 times the legal limit. He also had both cocaine and marijuana in his system. Rodriguez was a repeat drunk driver; he had been arrested on a previous charge of driving while intoxicated in Westminister just nine days earlier.
Sheriff Brown emphasized that, contrary to Capello’s biased press release, the deputy did not violate department policy. Furthermore, the settlement in this case does not admit any wrongdoing or liability on the part of the Sheriff’s Office or the County. “Plaintiff’s counsel chose to use his one-sided theory of events that was never presented in court.”
“The shame of Mr. Capello’s press release is that it places blame on the actions of a sheriff’s deputy who was attempting to protect the public instead of where it truly belongs - on a convicted felon who was so irresponsibly drunk that night that he thought he was in Orange County at the time of the crash.”
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