Prosecutor dumped after declining firefighter assault case

April 4, 2012

Ryan Mason


The San Luis Obispo County prosecutor who decided not to prosecute firefighter Ryan Mason who is accused of savagely beating a man in June has been removed from the case.

Deputy District Attorney Karen Gray told the victim, Jory Brigham, that she didn’t think she could win the case, referring to the victim’s appearance as renegade and Mason’s as upstanding.

Gray was replaced a few weeks ago by  Deputy District Attorney Kristy Imel, a decision made after CalCoastNews questioned Gray’s decision to drop the case.

Gray told Brighham she didn’t think she could win the case.

“Karen Gray said ‘I don’t take anything I don’t think I can win,’” Brigham’s attorney  Mike Pick said. “She said it was just another bar fight. She didn’t even know (Jory) had been injured.”

In June, Mason followed Brigham into a bathroom at Pappy McGregor’s and allegedly beat him until he was unconscious because of an eight-month rift stemming from claims Brigham dissed the firefighter for having an affair with a policeman’s wife in a Facebook post.

“It is blowing my mind recently how lightly marriage is taken, and how it is almost socially acceptable to walk out on your family,” Brigham said on his Facebook page on January 27.

Doctors wired Brigham’s jaw shut and placed four metal plates into his face. He currently faces additional surgeries and has facial numbness that likely is permanent.

Gray elected not to pursue the case even though several members of local law enforcement said the case is a “slam dunk,” and San Luis Obispo Superior Court Judge Michael Duffy ruled in September that sufficient evidence existed to justify a trial.

Multiple witnesses to Mason’s alleged violent past either are afraid or reticent to testify against the firefighter, according to Brigham’s attorney, Mike Pick.

“She (Gray) can just subpoena people to talk,” Pick said.

CalCoastNews reporters spoke to almost a dozen witnesses who say they have watched Mason snap or lose his composure. Most wanted their names withheld either because of friendships with members of Mason’s family or fear of retaliation.

Mason’s history of alleged violent acts goes back to days at San Luis Obispo High School where he was suspended for an unusually violent high school fist fight were he bashed his opponent’s head into a metal locker.

Following the June incident at Pappy McGregor’s, police interviewed Travis Mello, who was involved in a previous altercation with Mason at Mo Tav in April over an affair Mason was having with the wife of Mello’s cousin.

According to the police report, Mason approached Mello, who was attending a birthday celebration, and asked him to discuss the affair with him. Mello said he had nothing to say to Mason and asked him to leave him alone.

Mason refused and after several attempts to get Mello to talk, Mason challenged Mello to a fight. Mello said he did not want to fight and reminded Mason that he was a firefighter and his behavior was unacceptable, the report says.

Mello told police Mason got in his face, and he shoved Mason away. Mello said they began shoving each other though no punches were traded. Bouncers interceded, ejecting both men from the bar, the police report says.

When asked by officers about the fight at the wedding, Mello asked what wedding the officer was referring to. Mello then went on to tell the officers of a 1997 Los Osos wedding where Mello claimed Mason hit another man over the head with a champagne glass.

According to several eyewitnesses, however, Mason grabbed a full bottle of champagne and bashed Al Beavers, the owner of Al’s Septic Pumping Service, on the head because he thought he was ogling his date at the wedding.

Though San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s deputies responded, Mason was never arrested for the alleged assault.

In Feb. 2011, Mason was playing poker with several neighbors when one joked to Mason that firefighters spend their days bringing cats down from trees. Sources say Mason became angry and attempted to crawl across the table at the card player. It allegedly took three men to restrain Mason, who has since been barred from the game.

Following Gray’s announcement that she planned to drop the case, several friends of Brigham’s including Jeremy Limpic, a local web designer, began organizing a signature gathering campaign to help pressure the District Attorney’s office into prosecuting Mason.

“With a case as extreme as this you think justice would take it course,” Limpic said. “We just want justice.”

The trial is currently set to begin on April 23.



  1. south says:

    Stick a fork in it. This case is sunk and poor Ms. Imel will have it on her record as having lost it. Chris Cassiola had to have intimidated the heck out of Ms. Gray for her to poison the well in this manner. While it is certainly possible that her workload didn’t allow her to give it the attention it needed, a quiet reassignment would have normally happened.

    But for the prosecutor to tell the media that she couldn’t win the case? Not knowing that the victim was severely injured? WTF? Who charged this case in the first place? Clearly that person read all the reports and recommended a felony charge. This whole situation appears contrived, and I wonder what the back story really is.

    (26) 28 Total Votes - 27 up - 1 down
  2. MaryMalone says:

    Very interesting…..

    The website, including the link to the police reports on the initial interviews with Mason and Brigham (, is no longer accessible (404 error message).

    (16) 22 Total Votes - 19 up - 3 down
    • MaryMalone says:

      I was putting together a timeline for the Mason case, reviewing the two detective interviews that WERE on the stopryanmason website (but no longer ARE), when my “hinky-alert” went off.

      The two reports were:

      1. A two-page interview with Brigham (“Supplemental Report No. 3,” dated 6/7/2011 , 08:13, signed by “SUPERVISOR” J. Smith). The “DISPOSITION” is “Active, pending interview with SILVERMAN, KENDRA MASON and HODG.”

      2. A four-page interview with Mason (“Supplemental Report No. 2,” dated 6/6/2011, 09:52, signed by “SUPERVISOR” J. Smith). The “DISPOSITION” is “Case active pending re-interview with JORY BRIGHAM, ALISON GRIGHAM, KIM SILVERMAN, TIM HODGE, KENDRA MASON.”

      On reading Mason’s interview, one thing that bothered me right off the bat is that the detective made it a point of documenting that he advised Mason he was not under arrest, that he was there on a voluntary basis, and if he wanted to terminate the interview he was free to do so. In interview #3 with Brigham, however, the detective never documents informing Brigham of those rights, even though Mason had not yet been charged and this was still in the investigative stage.

      The interview reads like the detective was trying to clear up a few points where Mason was unclear, didn’t mention something that (IMO) Mason should have known was important, or gave conflicting information.

      For example, it seemed like the detective was trying to get Mason on record about who he called, and who he received calls from, after the beat-down at Pappy McGreggors, and Mason had fled the scene and returned home.

      The detective’s report states “I asked him if he called anyone after arriving back at his house.” That sounds to me like Mason had not yet told detectives that he had called Ron Gomez, otherwise the detective wouldn’t have asked him if he had called anyone. It makes me wonder who, if it wasn’t Mason, clued the detectives in on Mason calling Gomez.

      This is, IMO, an important call. Ron Gomez is Mason’s co-worker. Mason was on the scene after the beatdown, and after Mason had fled the scene.

      Check this out–Mason told the detective that, In this call, which Mason made right after he got home, he asked Gomez if Brigham was okay. However, Gomez told Mason that, due to confidentiality, he could not discuss the issue with him.

      IMO, that sounds like Gomez was one of the responders who was called to the scene. Also, IMO, it would be very inappropriate for Mason—who had just beat Bigham to unconsciousness, causing five-steel-plates worth of facial injuries, and fleeing the scene of the crime when there was a severely injured person down—to call a co-worker on-scene to pump him for information.

      The detective then asks Mason if anyone called him after he got home on the night of the altercation. Mason replied he “did receive a call from Lt. Proll but did not notice the call until he woke up the next morning.”

      Huh? He called out from his house to Gomez on-scene but, in using the phone, didn’t “notice” that Lt. Proll had called? Was he dialing and operating the phone with his eyes closed?

      Mason also told the detective interviewing him that after he noticed the call from Lt. Proll the next morning, it was at that time that he called his “Chief” who told him he needed to go to the PD to explain what happened. This brings up another interesting question about the timeline of events.

      We’ve read from different sources that it was five days before Mason was interviewed about the beat-down. However, this detective’s report of his interview of Mason indicates that this second interview of Mason was done on 6/6/2011 (the beat-down occurred no 6/4/2011). Also, this detective interviewing Mason was contacted on 6/5/2011 at around 8:30 AM, by Sgt. J. Booth, “regarding an assault that occurred at around 23:29 hours at Pappy McGreggor’s located at 1865 Monterey St.” And, as mentioned, Mason’s “chief” told him to report to the PD for questioning on 6/5/2011.

      So, apparently there was a lot of interviewing going on before the fifth day following the beat-down, which is when the first interview with Mason was supposed to have occurred. Why haven’t we heard about it?

      Mason tends to be vague in his responses, IMO. The detective makes it a point to pin him down on especially things that Mason should know he should not have done–like hitting Brigham after he was unconscious and whether or not he felt he could have left the restroom at any time during the altercation. [On the latter, Mason actually says “yes.” Doh.]

      In summary, this third interview with Mason documents Mason as offering the statement that he could have left the restroom at one point after the altercation became physical, that Brigham hit the wall on his way to falling to the floor, that Brigham was “temporarily unconscious” after the fall (but miraculously recovers, was hit 3 more times, after which he was unconscious), Mason left the scene of a crime, that he hit Brigham three times after Brigham was down, and that Mason had Brigham pinned down such that Brigham could not possibly defend himself.

      Maybe that’s why the interviews are no longer available on the stopryanmason website–nor is the rest of the website’s information.

      (21) 29 Total Votes - 25 up - 4 down
      • Ted Slanders says:


        As usual, and it makes sense, they probably don’t want it tried in the press where it can get out to others in a timely manner, therefore, jury selection would be hell.

        Barring the fact that SLO PD and SLO FD look out for each other, at other people’s expense, is just another reason Brigham should take this case elsewhere if possible.

        (21) 33 Total Votes - 27 up - 6 down
        • MaryMalone says:

          Ted, I think the “tried-in-the-press” argument fails when it means that the public’s right to be informed is thwarted.

          The public has a right to be informed. We pay Mason’s salary, and we are at risk every minute he is not locked up.

          It is CCN’s willingness to publish the truth about Mason’s violent attacks on civilians, and it was the reaction of the public that put public pressure on the FD, PD and prosecutors such that Mason is facing serious charges for his psycho attack on Brigham.

          When the public is informed a crime, they form opinions. If that means it is “tried in the press,” then so be it. The public’s right to know supersedes any risk of “trial by the press.”

          (6) 14 Total Votes - 10 up - 4 down
  3. Ted Slanders says:

    When Ryan Mason gets to trial, I wouldn’t put it past the SLO FD to park a few of their finest fire trucks outside the courtroom grounds in showing their support for their brave comrade that kept brutally beating Brigham when he was unconscious! What a legacy to uphold! This is barring Ryan Masons ever so violent past.

    Since Mason got special handling at the scene of the fight with no arrest or investigation, and the subsequent questionable coverups, I would also expect the SLO FD to have Ryan Mason in the lead fire truck going to court every day with the siren on in his behalf! They might as well coddle little tough boy Mason to the extreme like it has been done thus far!

    Like Mary Malone said, wouldn’t it be expected that the SLO FD packs the court, ala Solomon, with uniformed FD employees to allude to the jury in how wrong it would be to convict their tough boy role model?

    Peruse the San Luis Obispo Fire Department home page.

    They have a motto that should be changed to the following;

    “We shall protect the lives and property of the citizens and visitors of our City from the adverse effects of RYAN MASON, fires, medical emergencies and other dangers caused by RYAN MASON, man or nature. We shall fulfill our mission with Courtesy & Service by motivated, productive individuals who value their profession, EXCEPT OUR POSTER CHILD TOUGH BOY RYAN MASON, co-workers and the community they proudly serve.

    (32) 52 Total Votes - 42 up - 10 down
  4. rogerfreberg says:

    I am disappointed in Karen Gray.

    For all the reasons stated this case needs to go forward.

    (54) 54 Total Votes - 54 up - 0 down

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