Prosecutor dumped after declining firefighter assault case

April 4, 2012

Ryan Mason

By KAREN VELIE

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.


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racket

Perhaps a follow-up story on Ms. Gray’s competence in her position is in order.


If the prosecutor feels she “can’t win” a case with the apparent preponderance of evidence that this one has, maybe she’s in the wrong line of work.


MaryMalone

I’d like to know how many times she’s used thinly-veiled racist-baiting comments in court, and how many important records (for the defense) have “disappeared” when she was the prosecutor.


CalCoastOutrage

We all know the DA’s office in this county spends most of their time prosecuting rinky dink crimes and avoiding the REAL crime in this county and now we’ve gotten a sneak peek inside the machine. They justify it to themselves by finding an out, namely “there just isn’t enough evidence to win this thing.”

Funny, the way I understood our legal system is that, while the DA/ADAs/DDAs have some leeway in whcih cases to prosecute, it’s the JUDGES who decide if there’s enough evidence to go ahead with the case and it is the PEOPLE of the county, the jury, who decide if a case is winable

I hope all the DDAs of this county learn a quick lesson here. The people of this county need to see the blantant abusers of other’s rights TRIED, and you let us, the jury, decide whether or not to convict.


Cindy

Gotta hand it to Cal Coast News. This case very likely might have ended up dropped but for CCN keeping a watchful eye on it. These day’s, when CCN comes poking around, our Officials think twice as CCN has become a force to be reckoned with. Even the Tribune is afraid of them and rightfully so as they make fools out of them with every hard hitting truth that comes their way.


THANK YOU CAL COAST NEWS – Karen, Dan, staff and supporters.


Citizen

Karen Gray should be fired from the DA’s Office.


Cindy

So what is with this Karen Gray? Is she grossly incompetent as to not even familiarize herself with the criminal aspects of her case (didn’t know Jory had been injured) or is it more likely that she was looking for a date with Mason? I’m inclined to believe that the ladies man probably schmoozed her and she wanted some of his lechery. Yeah, I know that it isn’t nice to think and talk like that but there isn’t much else left to consider? She is a Deputy DA with a good case that would cause a public outrage if it were dropped so if she isn’t hot to trot with lover boy, then you tell me?


fhill123

Let’s bring in a few truckloads of sand so the the people involved here (DA’s office) can bury their heads.


pasoparent5

“She said it was just another bar fight. She didn’t even know I had been injured…”


How can the Deputy DA Ms. Gray lie like that when there are graphic photos to show the injury AND medical records…4 metal plates in his face?! A wired jaw…facial numbness that may be permanent?!


It may be time for the Deputy DA to pursue another profession!


standup

Why don’t we just give him 250k to quit his job? He is one lucky pos he didn’t do that to me and the da didn’t prosecute. I might just have to track him down and put him down. I don’t expect much in this corrupt county.


Crusader

That’s the problem though. If Brigham retaliated he’ed go to jail/prison.


I gotta say, the people are only going to accept so much BS…


RU4Real

It’s clear that Mason is a loose canon, not only should this case go to trial, but this fool should have lost his job long ago. There’s no place for someone like him in the fire dept. OH! I fogot, this is San Luis Obispo, the MOST corrupt City & County Government in the State of California. The good old boy network will keep Ryan “protected”. I hope they get a decent Judge for this case. Someone that’s NOT in the “pocket” of the City/County…


Mr. Holly

Hell there is no place for this guy in society. He should be locked up asap before he kills somebody.

But like other recent stories we will learn that he has inhaled some fumes from some type of hazardous material and henceforth is entitled to one of those lucrative fire department retirements. SLO will follow in the footsteps of Paso Robles and will pay for all of the bad press that this moron has received.

In the long run this guy and Solomon will team up and will be fixtures at all of the local bars, she dancing and singing while he is fighting everyone. Then once all of the payoffs are made maybe they will ride off into the sunset and tell Oprah what a nice place SLO is.


perseus

To quote a movie line: “I’m only a poor corrupt official.”


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