Peppered, pounded, pizza shop owner seeks big SLO dough

July 17, 2008

Posted 1/22/2008

San Luis Obispo businessman Jeff Milne, home after a long day baking and serving at his Babbo’s Pizzeria on Santa Rosa, was surprised when he looked through a window and saw police officers at his door, but not worried… despite the fact they were leveling weapons at him.
After all, by his own description, Milne is a law-abiding man and a supporter of law enforcement. He had just kicked off his shoes and shirt in July 2007 and was settling down to watch television when four cops descended on his home at 366 Christina and banged on the front door. Milne readily admitted the officers, asking, “Hey, what’s going on?”
According to a claim filed by lawyers for Milne, the restaurateur was grabbed and patted down while he held his hands in the air. One officer found a small, folded pocket knife in Milne’s back pocket, shouted “Knife!” and immediately pepper-sprayed Milne in his face. He was wrestled to the ground and pinned by one officer’s knee while the others punched him, he said. His wrists were cuffed behind his back. Then he was hauled roughly to his feet, causing additional injury, he now alleges.

The cops huddled; this house call apparently was not what they had been expecting. Acting on a tip from a neighbor’s 10-year-old girl about a man forcibly entering the house, the officers – three from the city of San Luis Obispo, another from Cal Poly campus police – later would testify that they were prepared to confront a burglar. Instead, they found the homeowner, Milne.
After the cops had conferred among themselves, Milne was booked into County Jail, charged with resisting arrest and obstructing an officer. He spent the night behind bars, dressed only in socks and jeans.
“The police had to think of something pretty quick,” said Milne’s lawyer, Lou Koory of James McKiernan Lawyers. “What they had was a guy in his own house who hadn’t done anything wrong whatsoever.”
Milne said the officers did not ask for identification before throwing him to the ground. He noted in his claim that the child’s report to police suggested a man “had kicked down the door” and entered a nearby house. When police arrived at Milne’s, they found no evidence of damage to the door.
Last October, a San Luis Obispo Superior Court jury acquitted Milne of all charges against him, clearing the way for submission of his $10 million claim. The claim recently was denied by the SLO city council and a lawsuit now is being prepared, said Koory.
Capt. Dan Blanke of the SLO Police Department declined comment and referred questions to the city attorney.
The officers are identified as Jeff Koznek, Amy Chastain, Crystal
Locarnini, all of San Luis Obispo’s department; and Max Schad, Cal Poly police. Also named is the city and its police department.
The claim alleges police officers offered dishonest testimony at trial and tampered with evidence. Specifically, Milne alleges police misconduct; unlawful arrest; excessive force; assault and battery; violation of civil rights; spoliation of evidence; and negligence.


One Comment

  1. ccn_debate says:

    Member Opinions:
    By: Anonymous on 4/16/08
    Similar incidents are happening in Paso Robles. When are the racketeering govt tyrants (and union thugs) gong to be accountable to the taxpayers who pay their salaries.

    By: Anonymous on 2/16/08
    Has this been covered at all in the T-T?

    By: Anonymous on 1/27/08
    Captivating a reader’s interest is the reason why you have good copy editors to put exciting headlines on a story. Case in point: today’s Trib story about the defacing of the church… turns out they just wrote “666” and drew a pentagram on a dry-erase board. I expected some spray paint or glass etching after reading the headline.

    By: Anonymous on 1/27/08
    I think you’re splitting hairs between finely crafted journalism (ha) and muckracking, yellow journalism, which is what Blackburn does on a level unrivaled on the West Coast. In order to be useful the story must first be read. To be read, it must hold the readers interest. A story about some lawyer filing a lawsuit isn’t at the top of my list.

    By: Anonymous on 1/24/08
    Of course the city always denies claims like this. I’m not going to give away $10 million or whatever to just anyone either. It’s really just something to make suing the government more annoying. That said, it’s an important step in any case like this, which is why it would be the news item. The first eight paragraphs were about what happened initially, all of which had already been covered. It’s not news; it’s olds. The new development in the story is the denial of the claim, which all but means the city is going to court. Since it’s the news, it needs to go at the top of the story. Then, the first eight paragraphs can go toward the end as a space filler and as a backstory for someone that might have missed the original story.

    By: Anonymous on 1/24/08
    Hey Anon,

    The city ALWAYS denies these suits.
    This is clearly a lack of supervision and experience. SLOPD has had a recent history of bad decision making.

    Where is the missing elderly man from a couple years ago? No body no nothing. Supervisors decided they did not need to search for him immediately?

    Why do police rush this guy in his own home, but do not enter a home to check on people when the family says they are having trouble contacting them?

    By the way the person in the second example was later found dead.

    This suit was a long time comming, as are investigations into the other incidents.

    By: Anonymous on 1/23/08
    Oh Crap! they are in deep do. Good job keeping this public

    By: Anonymous on 1/23/08
    Thanks for the update. This story needs to stay in the public eye.

    By: Anonymous on 1/23/08
    New Times broke the stroy months ago- no one esle would cover it. Thanks for the up-date.

    By: Anonymous on 1/22/08
    I like the way the story was written. It was all new to me. Thanks, Dan, for keeping us posted on this.

    By: Anonymous on 1/22/08
    I think it’s safe to assume anyone reading this site keeps himself or herself well-informed on local news. Even if the first seven paragraphs are needed in the off-chance this is a new story to someone, they should go at the end of the story. The actual news of the story doesn’t start until paragraph eight — that his claim was denied and he’s preparing a lawsuit.

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