San Luis Obispo Sheriff deputy’s Playboy rebuttal

December 21, 2010

Darren Murphy


A San Luis Obispo Sheriff deputy accused of an unconstitutional raid of an Atascadero man’s home and gun safe in 2008 has chosen the December issue of Playboy magazine to make his first public comments.

San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Deputy Darren Murphy broke his silence in the “Forum” section of the men’s magazine, saying a 23-minute video produced by Central Coast News Agency and posted on caused him to be “maligned online.”

Comments made in the video by Murphy and a handful of acquiescent associates were captured on their own vehicle recorders; viewers hear and see the deputies manufacturing cause to enter the home, then a gun safe, and then colluding to bring a packet of bogus charges against the homeowner, Matt Hart.

“The Hart Locker: SLO Sheriff Sacking the Fourth Amendment” has been viewed by more than 2.8 million people worldwide. Murphy’s letter to Playboy has created new national interest in the documentary, and has been receiving dozens of comments from viewers across the nation.

Neither Murphy nor his department supervisors have ever commented on the video for San Luis Obispo County consumption.

In the “Forum” section of the magazine under the heading “Can The Camera Lie?” Murphy writes:

“As a 27-year veteran of street patrol work, I am encouraged by Martin Prieb’s observations in August (“Life on Camera”) about the ambiguity cops face every day. This past summer a website posted squad-car footage taken two years ago during my arrest of a man in an incident involving the use of a firearm.

“This selectively edited footage caused me to be maligned online. When our department installed dashboard cameras 25 years ago, I was one of the few deputies in favor of ‘the sergeant in the trunk,’ telling my co-workers it could save their ass.

“Now I’m not so sure. Society has every right to expect officers to perform their duties in a lawful manner. But when the citizenry uses tools intended to protect all parties to wrongfully attack officers, the incentive to put your ass on the line is greatly diminished. A society that makes war with its police had better make friends with its criminals. Darren Murphy, Atascadero, California.”

The Playboy editors responded: “You can view the edited footage of the arrest at The commentators focus on the constitutionality of Murphy and his fellow deputies entering the suspect’s home after arresting him in the front yard.”

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This is more of the bad saga of apparently poor supervision on the part of our sheriff. What a shame it is that we are stuck paying his pension.


Add this!

If Matt Hart files a law suit and prevails, the judgement will be paid by taxpayers.

Nothing is gonna be taken out of Murphy’s pension to pay for it!

In reply to JackL. Plenty of LE impropriety has occured in our county that flew under the radar thanks to lack of real news coverage. Check out the following website: or just google the name Sheriff Hedges and SLO County

You will find that the deputies actually murdered a man and issued a search warrant the next day claiming that they were at his home to serve the warrant that didn’t exist at the time! The photos of the dated warrant and police report are on that site. If you read the reports that came out of the county HR department, you will find that one deputy detective was afraid of being murdered by another deputy detective who had covered up a murder of a young woman. It just doesn’t end with the shocking exposure and strange death’s of some citizens who came into contact with some of our deputies, nothing has ever been done about it.


WhAt murder and deputies are you talking about?

Can’t you list a few names?

What is most astonishing to me is that Murphy for all intent and purpose …. got away with this … AND THEN …….. HE brings it up again in a national forum like Playboy. What an idiot. Guy’s like this make the LE job much more difficult than dashboard cams. He is his own and his brothers in LE worst enemy.

I would not think Darren Murphy is an idiot but he is certainly not schooled in public perception and media diplomacy. You would think his lawyers would be crafting his statements.

Idiot might be to kind a word. He obviously fell out of the stupid tree, striking EVERY branch on the way down…

Does anyone know why he reached for his cell phone? What was the point of that? Unfortunately, that’s what set them off.

Hart claims to have reached for his cell phone to call his attorney because the police were holding him at gun point and he hadn’t done anything wrong. Reaching for his cell phone is not what set them off in my opinion. Darren Murphy wanted to go in the guy’s house and wasn’t going to take no for an answer. He was set off while he was initially in route to the call. Something is very wrong with Murphy.

I have to admit it was like watching a pack of wild animals with tunnel vison attacking their prey.

Dan may have a definitive answer but I believe it was (supposedly) to call the FBI. I read claims that the FBI asked Mr. Hart to call if another event such as the first one occurred (previous history with SLOC LE). Obviously that was not the time to do so.

Actually, if you listen to the conversations of the LEOs on their way to Harts place you can hear them planning what they intend on doing…the cell phone was not what “set them off:.

You folks want an eye opener you may not have thought of in this case and others? Read this! If it does not open cut and paste it.

What a bunch of pansies those cops were. Bumbling, fumbling scared of their own shadows and hustling to bust Matt for anything, and steal his things after ransacking his house. I hope our new Sheriff has the sense and guts to fire all of them and give the other deputies some training in public relations and the law.

Please confirm “Mr. Murphy” is no longer “Deputy Murphy” any longer? I heard he succumbed to his retirement when this story surfaced. Truth or not?

I find this whole thing a little hard to believe. I CAN believe the video was altered to benefit the guy but there was nothing missing when those amateurs tried to hack up a game plan to screw this guy over. The whole case should have been tossed because they simply didn’t have a legal purpose to be there to begin with.

I’m especially astounded that the trained detective didn’t have enough sense to simply back off and “call a friend”, request a supervisor or something that would have obviously helped their situation!

Wait just one nano moment:

1. Probable cause to contact Matt for legally target practicing on his “own” property

2. His past criminal record was legally target practicing on his “own” property

3. Judge Dodie A. Harman tossed out “additional related” charges.

A. Was Darren Murphy creating “INDEPENDENT”probable cause to conceal or protect an informant, or doing a favor or returning a favor to a buddy???

B. Was Matt Hart’s criminal record created or developed for a purpose???

C. The book (additional charges) was thrown at him “to the max”!

Friendly advisement of the was all that was necessary to resolve the problem

I need a drink, I’m staying neutral (with Matt Hart) on this till more data comes in.

i’ll toast with you on this one Willie.

Willie, again I agree. There is always two sides, two visions of what went down. That does not mean one side, or either side, was 100% correct, or even correct at all. I too do not know the exact facts. One thing is for certain, opening the safe under the conditions that existed was against all local, county, state and constitutional laws I have ever read or have been informed of. I am here to learn and hope for no repeats of any poor judgment calls by LE.

As I lay awake under the evening stars I was thinking; “If Matt was shot would even more fabrication have taken place to cover up a bad call? How many times have calls been covered over with a veil of creative penmanship and verbal judo by local LE?” I no doubt am not the only one thinking these things. Therefore in my mind, it illustrates why the citizens of a community need to respect and trust each LEO/Public Servant that is there to serve and protect us.

I know LE must focus during the course duty and cannot be be thinned out by distraction or interferance, it would be too dangerous or they would lose control.

However if they are doing their job in accordance with their training the paperwork later will work itself out, I’m told after three years experience it is routine.

But the more I hear about this stuff from down to earth and responsible/ respectable people I’ve known for years, the more I see distrust, lost of respect and lost of “support” in society for LE. The things you call respect and trust are earned or stolen, at this point in time very few adult and seniors give any worth to your noble words. The persons really responsible for this are his superiors! It is difficult for any LEO to take action on another LEO. LAPD (after years of Federal watchdogging) and CHP (Since Rodney King excessive force use and false reporting) are up to speed on things like this. Only the superiors can do it or they are just as dirty!

To Jack L. : The entire 5 1/2 hours of tape clearly — and I mean clearly — show that Matt Hart complied immediately with deputies’ orders. Judge Dodie A. Harman clearly agreed, as during Hart’s preliminary hearing (which should have NEVER occurred) she tossed out those related charges.


Has there been an official apology or recognition on LE’s side that they were in error? That should at least be done in good faith and hopefully help us recognize that LE clearly understands the issues at hand. Where does this case stand litigation wise? Will this become a test case which is so sadly needed in CA? Thanks in advance.


No apology, no such recognition of error. One would think that a persistent media would be able to force the department to make some kind of gesture… if only such beasts existed in SLO County. As to litigation: Matt Hart is working with attorneys, I know few details, but will provide updates as I learn of them.

This could be a classic case for future police science students to watch and learn. It makes me think what else has taken place we do not know about?

Excellent piece Mr. Blackburn. I was glued to the entire video. Much appreciated.

…and the real crimes here are Civil Rights Violations under color of Authority by Deputy Murphy and the other Deputies assisting here. Mr. Hart’s actions prior to the home invasion have no relevance on what occurred later. The Deputies/Detectives should have procured a search warrant prior to entry of Mr. Hart’s home. That Warrant, based on an affidavit of truth, would never have been issued. Heads need to roll here.

Search Warrant, yes, for sure. Would it have been issued? I certainly cannot say. We see how LE has it’s own codes of operation and make their own laws or disregard laws as they go. How far does that mindset penetrate into the ‘system’? Do judges side with LE at times with a wink and become a part of the problem? Our county is small, the so called ‘good guys’ often march together. If they do not admit their wrong doings, they may not think they did any wrong and the beat goes on. Has anyone seen a formal apology from the Sheriff regarding this call? Has anything truly been learned by LE regarding this call? Until the Sheriff’s Office fesses up and regains public support and trust, on the surface it appears not.

Are the entire 5 1/2 hours of tape available to view? What I have seen, as edited, is very troubling to me and I would like to view the entire tape. As edited the tapes appear to show the Sheriffs going way over the line in a most cavalier fashion. Very, very disappointing.

Sociologist calls the “Us Vs Them” a singular dimension mentality

There is no middle.

It is simply this, if you aren’t with us (even the slightest reservation) then you are against us.

So, Darren Murphy’s ultimatum (And I am NOT siding with the sociopath or Matt Hart types) “A society that makes war with its police had better make friends with its criminals,” lacks the one primary root factor of a successful LE Agency, and this is the support of the community, public or population!

So as much as one may despise Hart’s type, he was by a fluke of luck instrumental in exposing LE creative reporting. Thus “The enemy of my other enemy is my best friend” for the time being.

But there are good good LE out there!

I am sure that Murphy tried and believe he did his job in the best way he knew, but the public perception of standing before LE who can break or make his own law suggest that there is no real law, just mere authoritian and fear which does not lend much to public support or respect.

What is really spooky and haunting is his statement: “A society that makes war with its police had better make friends with its criminals,” or else!!!

I believe he will be asked to retire by superiors (or else!!!).


I am sensing some sort of Traumatic Stress Disorder in Darren Murphy’s statements. At the very least he needs to take a Media Diplomacy 101 class and some much needed R&R along with counciling. At the other end of the spectrum it may be time for our new sheriff to give Murphy a golden handshake that he cannot refuse. This whole incident has gone viral all over the USA and further damaging the Sheriff’s Office image that’s going to be hard to repair.

You hit it on the nose, your right on top of it! Thank you