Deputies transgressions caught on videotape

July 16, 2010

Deputy Darren Murphy is at right.

Which has the most weight in a court of law — the testimony of a law enforcement official, or that of an average, law-abiding citizen?

A rare opportunity to see, and hear, how some San Luis Obispo County sheriff’s deputies view the U.S. Constitution is contained in a 22-minute “mini-documentary” on a news website just launched. That opportunity is presented by deputies themselves, talking into their shoulder microphones and standing in front of their vehicle-mounted cameras.

In this case, the recordings tilt the argument in favor of the citizen… in a big way.

Deputy Darren Murphy is featured in the first video report by KCCN.tv, a project of Central Coast News Agency. Murphy leads a squad of heavily armed deputies into the yard of a North County man,  then into the man’s house , and ultimately, into a locked gun safe. Sheriff’s department recordings made by the deputies themselves clearly illustrate their lack of concern for individual rights; deputies can be overheard manufacturing reasons for the intrusion into the home, the gun safe, and for the pending arrest of longtime resident Matt Hart.

The video report is the first of what Central Coast News Agency editor Daniel Blackburn says will be monthly offerings by the new Web site.

Blackburn, who helped found CalCoastNews.com, cited “Deputy Murphy’s uncensored, darkly disturbing observations and behavior following his Code 3 arrival at the rural home of Hart. Those utterances were picked up by Murphy’s and other deputies’ own recorders,” Blackburn said.

“Those recordings provide a rare, frighteningly revealing, behind-the-scenes perspective of how one local law enforcement agency views the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, and other laws its personnel are sworn to uphold,” he said.

Watch the full video documentary at KCCN.tv. Note, you may have to download plug-ins in order to view the video.







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114 Comments

  1. Saveslocounty says:

    Good question Crusader. The Civil Service Commission was established in SLO County in 1955 to provide “fairness” and an appeal remedy to employees of County Government. The deputies union neutered itself by splitting due to the unethical behavior of their very own leaders. While the deputies lost their political power, it was a good move showing that the deputies on the street were sick of the underhanded tactics of their union.
    The problem is a lack of ethic and no accountability for their actions by the Sheriff and Undersheriff. It would be difficult to discipline these guys at the very time you are trying to resolve your own DUI arrest. While Hedges and Bolts are blind to their own action, they have truly fallen into a pit of corruption. The list of wrongdoings, oversight and arrogance would be too extensive to list on this site and would probably crash the system. By the way, the gentleman in the plainclothes and tie was their Commander who is actually responsible for managing that event. A Hedges appointee, you could see that he offered no input to stop or control this situation.
    That being said, these actions are a clear violation of the 4th Amendment and the predisposition of Murphy to find something to take this guy to jail was appalling. The exigency is a valid concern which gives them the right to pursue suspects and look for victims in a brief search of the building. Even a lay person would recognize the unlikelihood that additional “suspects” or victims were hiding in the gun safe. Seizing the guns will likely be thrown out at the 1538.5 hearing leaving them with nothing but a waste of taxpayer’s money. The street cops do deal with a number of “a..holes” as described by Murphy but they too are protected by the constitution.
    The issues of constitutional law are usually much more complicated than in this particular case. It seems that street cops need to be a lawyer in order to do their job properly. Oh wait, funny thing is that Murphy actually is an attorney as verified on the California State Bar web-site. And he was manufacturing the “colorful” wording to justify their violation.
    Please understand that I am a strong supporter of the majority of the officers and deputies working the streets. However, have little tolerance for unethical and illegal behavior by our protectors.

    (19) 23 Total Votes - 21 up - 2 down
    • zaphod says:

      Do sheriff deputies get training in flowery language creative report writing, like some prison guards I know ? and at what cost to the taxpayer

      (7) 7 Total Votes - 7 up - 0 down
      • Saveslocounty says:

        They are trained in report writing and how to articulate the minute detail that explains ones action. They are not taught to be untruthful, flowery or misleading. It has to do with integrity and a case decision called Brady v. Maryland that identifies untruthful officers and mandates disclosure by the DA’s Office to the defense bar. This was not an example of good police work and surely the vast majority of deputies are appauled.

        (4) 6 Total Votes - 5 up - 1 down
  2. Crusader says:

    The SLOC Sheriff’s Department is in great need of a personnel enema beginning at the top. But just how the heck do you administer such a badly needed treatment given the unions and civil service protection?

    (26) 30 Total Votes - 28 up - 2 down
    • zaphod says:

      beginning at the top
      that would be Mr. D.A. G.S. who threatened mr.Hart with four 4 felonies if he did not plea guilty to the misdemeanor, What district attorney would make an innocent man lie, ??? how did it get this way? what bargain? what plea?

      (9) 11 Total Votes - 10 up - 1 down
      • asthecrowphlies says:

        you couldn’t be more right about shea this is the same DA that pushed for and got a 18 yr. old pat wollett a 27 yr. to life sentence for being a dumb-ass at a murder scene and hiding for awhile with the killer yet the girl that stabbed , multiple times , her gay ex-lovers boyfriend to death got only 17 yr. to life . what was and is shea thinking ???

        (2) 2 Total Votes - 2 up - 0 down
  3. Lilylu says:

    Mr. Blackbur, you did a great job on this . Let’s see more of this kind of investigative reporting. I would love to see a report of the waste that goes on in State Government. Mainly, Dept. of Corrections and Mental Health. (ASH) I think it would be timely. Here are some story lines. ASH-The recent hiring of more Music Rehabilitation Therapists and an in depth look at why sexual predators get Music and Dance Therapy while our schools are losing teachers. Dept. of Corrections-The waste in what imates getfrom food, entertainment , services.

    (14) 28 Total Votes - 21 up - 7 down
    • ThomasPaine says:

      There are no “sexual predators” at ASH.

      That being said, for the mosr part our Prison Industrial Complex is bloated and corrupt but the prisoners require better treatment, not worse.

      (-6) 14 Total Votes - 4 up - 10 down
  4. Lilylu says:

    This is frightening! Unfortunately not unbelievable. I can only hope these deputies are all disciplined and Mr. Murphy fired! And yes, although I think there are too many lawsuits being filed, Mr. Hart needs to sue and prevail. I know someone who’s vehicle was towed from a parking lot in Morro Bay for having an EXPIRED REGISTRATION. When he argued with the tow truck driver and police officer, he was arrested for resisting arrest, and interfering with law enforcement. I am a law abiding citizen abd have always appreciated and respected those who work in law enforcement, but when you see incidents like this happen, there is obviously something wrong from the top down.

    (16) 28 Total Votes - 22 up - 6 down
  5. Crusader says:

    I am so fed-up with “law enforcement officers!”

    After watching this disturbing video, every law enforcement officer involved — from the deputies and detective on tape to Sheriff Pat Hedges should get canned from the department and charges brought by the local DA.

    This is precisely why so many people hate law enforcement and it’s getting worse with jerks like Murphy on the job.

    I wasn’t there and I’m not certain how Mr. Hart acted at all times but I suspect they would have been very quick to shoot him had he given the deputies the slightest possible excuse.

    I also hope that Mr. Hart gets a sharp lawyer (go to calguns.net for help) sue the pants off of SLO County and each individual law enforcement officer in the video.

    (22) 38 Total Votes - 30 up - 8 down
  6. bobfromsanluis says:

    Okay, I saw the video here, and then I went and watched the entire 22 minutes at the link- HOLY SH*T! I certainly hope that both candidates watch this video and will answer questions about what they will do as the new Sheriff in situations like this. Every single officer in this video should have been disciplined, and the lead deputy, Murphy, should have been suspended. And this is from 2008? Outrage doesn’t even begin to describe how I feel about this incident. I don’t own a single weapon but from what I saw here, this man did everything he was supposed to; he had his weapons under lock and key, the one weapon he was firing he apparently had considered about where he was firing, and he obeyed the commands of the deputies- and he still had to plead guilty to a misdemeanor? I do hope Mr. Hart is successful at suing the Sheriff’s Department, even though our county can not really afford it; I know, let’s just give him his stuff back, maybe, just maybe that is all he wants. Friggin idiots some of these deputies seem to be.

    (33) 45 Total Votes - 39 up - 6 down
  7. racket says:

    While I strongly support law enforcement, and empathize with what they have to put up with, I predict (and hope) Deputy Murphy has pretty much ended his career in the sheriff’s dept.

    (41) 47 Total Votes - 44 up - 3 down
  8. Al says:

    Not even a particularly revenue generating bust which seems to be the norm for local PD’s these days.

    (14) 22 Total Votes - 18 up - 4 down
    • asthecrowphlies says:

      but they got great publicity out of it ! LOL

      (4) 4 Total Votes - 4 up - 0 down
  9. racket says:

    That is unbelievable.

    (25) 31 Total Votes - 28 up - 3 down

Comments are closed.