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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Paperboys

There is such a thing as “mutual combat” which is what a typical bar fight would come under. That’s usually for things like shoving matches or scuffles where no one gets hurt, but not for when one combatant ends up in the hospital with massive facial injuries and needs reconstructive surgery and the other has barely a scratch on him (note the mugshot). I can’t see how it could be called mutual combat, which is what the DA means when she calls it just a bar fight. Especially when one of the combatants was knocked unconscious.

If Mason is claiming self defense, then he can’t have laid one finger (or shoe) on his opponent after he went down and was unable to defend himself. If you keep pounding on someone after he’s down that’s the point when it become battery. And if you kick someone, it’s assault with a deadly weapon. Kick then in the head and it could be called attempted murder.

As for Ms. Gray, she better hope that the case was falling apart and that she wasn’t throwing it deliberately as some kind of favor for a fellow government employee. I would suggest Karen and Dan request her E-mails for the past six or eight months and see if she and the defense attorney were in contact.

I said it before when this first came out, Mason is a paramedic and as such he should know how fragile human life is. Pounding someone’s face in — self defense or not — is NOT the kind of behavior a person who is sworn to protect the public and to save lives should be doing.

He should never be allowed to put on the uniform of a firefighter/paramedic again. He clearly has a propensity for violence and is one of those thugs who settles his disagreements with his fists.

I have to agree with some of the posters here, he will beat the hell out of someone else if he is allowed to go unpunished for this.

On the other hand, Brigham sounds like he has a great civil lawsuit, where the burden of proof is lower and things like Mason’s previous fights can be put into evidence. Were I him, I’d sue Mason, the SLOPD, the DA, the restaurant and City Hall and anyone else that might have had a hand in covering this up. Cast the net wide enough and they’ll settle out of court in a flash, rather than have the fire chief, city manager, DA, and police chief hauled in for depositions. I see a six-figure settlement for this one but it’ll be sealed form the public like all government lawsuit settlements are.

Don’t give up Mr. Brigham, this guy should not be allowed to get away with this.


fhill123

I only hope that the courtroom spectators are a fair balance of people and not all uniformed firemen in support of their “brave?” colleague who apparently was able to defend himself as his so-called assailant was thoroughly pummeled.


Mr. Holly

I hope this scumbag goes before Judge Trice and gets the same as Weisenberg who killed the CHP officer. 15 years to life sounds good to me because he too is a potential killer.


Citizen

If Ryan Mason gets off on this charge, we will hear from him again. He has a history of violent assault, and he will just assault someone else. This person repeats the same actions, similar to Lisa Solomon Paso Police Chief who had mess up after mess up until she was exposed and quit.


MaryMalone

ITA. As I’ve said before about Mason, he belongs in ASH, not in a firefighter’s uniform on the streets of SLO City. He looks and acts unhinged.


His photo is just creepy. As Tony Soprano said to Ritchie April when April was trying to deliver a stare-down to Tony (in “The Sopranos” HBO series), “…don’t look at me with those Manson lamps.”


Mason’s eyes look eerily like Charles Manson’s eyes circa the Manson trials.


I’m not saying Mason is going to order his pals to take out a houseful of innocent people.


I’m saying Mason looks and ACTS unhinged, and it appears that his acts of violence against citizens is escalating over time.


Just as Charles Manson looked and acted unhinged, and his actions escalated over time.


Citizen

Not likely. Mason will be coddled because he is part of the “establishment”. He has his own attorney who is competent and interested in his welfare and winning the case, not one of our “no trial experience public defenders”. He will get the least punishment or will get off completely.


We need a tracking system for our public defenders. Anyone who continually looses cases should be removed from the pool, and the overall performance of the public defenders should be tracked.


MaryMalone

Perhaps the City of SLO will pack the first four court-room rows with firefighter personnel (in full-regalia, of course), like the City of Paso Robles did at the City Council meeting when they heard residents were going to show up to challenge the city council on their coddling of Solomon, accused of multiple sexual attacks on her subordinates.


Citizen

The DA’ s Office may as well have announced that they don’t want to win this case. First they assigned a prosecutor who is not known for her trial skills. In other words, they assigned someone who is likely to lose the case. When Karen Gray said she couldn’t win, it was probably true, not because of the case but because of her trial record. Then the DA assigned the case to a new attorney with little courtroom experience to go up against an experienced defense lawyer. Why? Because the DA’s Office has no intention of winning this case.


DA Gerald Shea seems to be the protector of the law enforcement and firefighter departments in the county, regardless of the crimes they may commit. He should be exposed and held accountable for his actions.


Look at the records of Karen Gray and Kristie Imel, and you will see that this assessment is true. We have a total weenie as DA that is more interested in keeping his cronies happy than in prosecuting crime.


dangerous county

Jory DEMAND a CHANGE OF VENUE… call the Attorney General if they insist your trial is heard in this county. There’s no such thing as justice in this county unless you are one of them, protected by their veil of lies, scheming,and corruption. It’s really bad here, don’t waste another day, call the Attorney General…


jms3211

Just to have real residents of this county saying these things is sickening…….and then to have an 8 to 1 ratio agreeing! How do we get this county back on track? If we don’t get on it soon we may have to leave it to the master cronies. I have had just about enough of this hypocritical BS! Just do your jobs we pay you to do and stop doing what does not work.


MaryMalone

The the job of the DA of SLO County is to protect the best interests of SLO County. Most citizens assume this means “prosecute the bad guys.”


In reality, especially the way Shea plays it, “prosecuting the bad guys,” only very occasionally, involves prosecuting bad guys who work for the county.


Dave

Thank you, New Times, for your fair and objective reporting on this story. And thank you for taking the time to contact the DA’s office and have them explain to you why there was a change in prosecutors in this case. Non-sensational headline. Accurate story. Both sides presented.


http://www.newtimesslo.com/news/7571/new-prosecutor-appointed-in-slo-firefighter-case/


fixed link ( / ) mod


KatieEvans

Anyone familiar with the daily activity at the DA’s office knows Karen Gray intended to drop the Mason case. This is a nice spin that the NT put on the story but it simply isn’t the truth. The case was assigned to Gray but had to be reassigned after complaints were levied and confirmed of her intent to drop the case.


Karen Gray is a nice person but she has difficulty with details at times. How many people are aware that the case against “All That Glitters” where ATG knowingly purchased a stolen $25,000 diamond wedding ring for $200 and then denied having done so while concealing the diamond ring from law enforcement was lost? Karen Gray prosecuted that case but charged the wrong person, claiming that he was the owner when he was clearly not the owner. Consequently, the case was lost with the criminals going free. Karen Gray should not be working for “we the people” as a prosecutor.


Anytime a gov agency wants to spin the truth, just call the NT or the Tribune. They’ll write whatever you like without a shred of fact checking.


MaryMalone

I think you are being quite “generous” in blaming Karen Gray’s “difficulty with details at times” for her her outrageous, harmful decisions she has made throughout the years.


These decisions–like the one where she runs her flapping gums about not being able to win the case because Brigham looks like a renegade and mason looks upstanding–can cause damage to the victims. We are not paying her lavish salary to have her damage the victims.


Talk about poisoning the well. You would think she is on the take from the defense. At this point she is certainly working in the defense’s best interests, and is working directly against the best interests of the people who pay her salary..


An attorney would have to be approaching senility to poison the well like that.


If Gray is that demented, then she needs to be on “meals-on-wheels” because I don’t think she would be competent to handle a butter knife to make her own sandwich. She certainly should not be on the DA’s staff of prosecutors.


pasoparent5

Hot debate. What do I think?

I think that KatieEvans pretty much hit a slam dunk and poor Dave is 0 for 4. Excellent, Katie!


Dogpound

“Anytime a gov agency wants to spin the truth, just call the NT or the Tribune. They’ll write whatever you like without a shred of fact checking.”


And CCN does “fact checking”??! That is pretty funny. They do very little. From what I have read CCN reports on what people tell them without checking into their background or the validity of what was said. Fact checking, please. This site is guilty of that too. The more sensational, the more readership, the more potential ad revenue.

Lastly, there was a conviction with jail time. Not the best conviction, true.


MaryMalone

Well, that there must have been what you call one peach of an article, Dave—since it’s already been “unpublished” from the newtimes website:


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The requested URL /news/7571/new-prosecutor-appointed-in-slo-firefighter-case was not found on this server.

Apache/2.2.3 (CentOS) Server at http://www.newtimesslo.com Port 80


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zaphod

Bwa ha ha ha ha ha !


R.Hodin

You found your way here, you can find your way to the referenced article.


http://www.newtimesslo.com/news/7571/new-prosecutor-appointed-in-slo-firefighter-case/


jms3211

Dave, I always thought you had a pretty fair look at things……..I just cannot see your side of this one as hard as I look. Are you just attempting to help out your friend? Take a closer look at what your investment in that friendship is costing you. The DA isn’t scoring any points with us; the people who pay his wages. He isn’t handling it fairly in our eyes. We only know what we hear and see on tv/radio and in the papers. Mason has been given more breaks than I would be if it were me that almost killed some guy in a bathroom! You would have to be blind not to see the favortism shown to this violent person. You look to be standing with the bad guys Dave!


Ted Slanders

Yeah, Mason is a pretty tough guy subsequent to Jory already being unconcious, and Mason admitting that he was still hitting him after he was out! Can you imagine in how tough Mason must feel when hitting a totally defenseless man?


Can you imagine in how proud Mason and the SLO FD must be with these facts, huh? Do you think they have a placard on the walls of the Fire Department Unit that Mason inhabits stating that he can sure beat a man once he is already unconcious! Wonder who did the framing of this plaque, and I am sure that it resides in a very prominant place!


Wow, they must both be so proud!


Ted Slanders

Yeah, Mason is a pretty tough guy subsequent to Jory already being unconscious, and Mason admitting that he was still hitting him while he was down and out! Once again, how many inches do you think Mason added to his male anatomy in this manly and unjust incident? Mason is the dtrue definition of a real tough guy under these circumstances, NOT!


We can only wonder in how it feels when hitting a defenseless man, as Mason admits too, and how tough Mason must feel subsequently has he parades out of the bathroom to assumed applauds from his equally tough guys that promote such insidious action!


We’ve seen our SLO PD’s finest arresting people on way lessor grounds than this beating, but yet it seems even though they saw the victim bloodied up with the horrific sustained injuries, his hospital visit, and the obvious facts that had to be on Mason’s hands and body, and Mason talking about this incident, and then Mason was not arrested or charged in any way?! Huh? Hey Cal Poly equally tough guys, this has set a president for you to do the same thing without any worry of ramifications from the SLO PD!!! Have fun!


Do we think that the SLO PD is protecting the SLO FD, and vice versa? Naw, but it sure looks like it, doesn’t it?


All I can assume is the fact that how proud Mason and the SLO FD must be with these facts, huh? Do you think they have a placard on the walls of the Fire Department Unit that Mason inhabits stating that he can sure beat a man once he is already unconscious! I am sure that said placard resides in a very prominent place within the hallowed halls of the SLO FD!


Wow, they must both be so proud, congratulations fellows!


Citizen

Dave, are you really that gullible? Take your “thank you for nothing” direct to the New Times. They will appreciate the joke.


Crusader

Brigham’s lawyer and the ADA need to request this trial be moved out of SLO County. This place is a political cesspool.


Crusader

If they dig into Ryan’s background they are going to find a bully/instigator. He’s going to do at least a duece at county jail…


MaryMalone

Well, that’s IF they dig into his background.


It’s obvious, at this point, that the County government–DA, FD, PD–are more interested in protecting the vicious criminals in their own ranks than protecting the victims.


MaryMalone

In the KCOY article (with video) about the 9/15/2011 , Judge Decides John Mason Will Go To Trial (http://www.kcoy.com/Global/story.asp?S=15474914), Ryan mason’s attorney (Chris Casciola) states the following:


I believe 12 citizens in our community are eventually going to have an opportunity to decide and I think when you compare the two parties involved, my client is clearly the one who is much more credible…


In that 9/15/2011 hearing, the prosecutor, Karen Gray, said the following:

“We’ve got the defendant telling (an officer) that he continued to strike the victim after he was down on the ground.”


In the same article it is noted that the prosecution (Karen Gray) had several witnesses, and the defense (Chris Casciola) only had one witness: Ryan Maxwell.


That was then (9/15/2011), and, Ach du lieber!, have things changed for the prosecutor, Karen Gray, since then!


NOW Karen Gray has refused to prosecute the case because (according to Gray) John Ryan Mason’s savage assault on his victim, Jory Brigham, was just another bar fight, and Karen Gray didn’t even know Brigham had been injured! AND, according to Karen Gray, she didn’t think she could win the case because of the physical attributes of the two men involved. She actually indicated she didn’t think she could win the case because Brigham had a renegade appearance and Mason had an upstanding appearance.


Compare what Karen Gray is saying NOW to what Ryan Mason’s attorney, Chris Casciola, said in the article about the hearing in September 2011: I believe 12 citizens in our community are eventually going to have an opportunity to decide and I think when you compare the two parties involved, my client is clearly the one who is much more credible…


Why is the PROSECUTOR now parroting the DEFENSE ATTORNEY’s desperate attempt to present a reason why 12 jurors will rule in favor of Ryan Mason: because of Mason’s appearance!


WTF is going on here? When did the SLO County Deputy Prosecutor start making decisions on who she would prosecute based on the reasoning of the defendent’s own attorney?


Something is way screwy here.


jackbnimble

At the risk of asking a stupid question – can someone clarify where things actually stand right now. This article states that Gray wanted to drop the case. But it wasn’t dropped, was it? It was just reassigned to Kristy Imel? If it wasn’t dropped, why is there the petition? And trial is scheduled for April 23? Again, it hasn’t been dropped? Just trying to distill the news here…is this an accurate summary?: “Gray wanted to drop the case, but instead it was reassigned and trial will proceed as planned”?


MaryMalone

Perhaps someone can clarify it for us.


From what I read, the CCN article doesn’t indicate the case was ever “dropped.” It indicates Karen Gray completely flipped from her stance in the 9/15/2011 preliminary hearing, and now believes she couldn’t win the case because Brigham’s appearance is that of a renegade and Mason’s appearance is upstanding–AND because it was just a bar fight. In fact, Gray didn’t even know (as of recently) that Brigham had been injured! although she certainly knew he had been injured at the time of the preliminary trial of 9/15/2011.


I would like it very much if someone could get a straight story out of Karen Gray. It is clear that she is a liar, but which of her conflicting positions is the lie and which is the truth is at question.


Cindy

Its my understanding that the petition was started because it was known that Karen Gray was stating that she didn’t believe she could win the case and she was going to recommend that the DA’s office should drop it. So people started the petition with the intent to petition her boss, DA Shae to see to it that Gray didn’t manage to let Mason off the hook. I think the petition has since been abandoned although I signed it after I followed the link that Mary posted to see what would happen and it responded to my e-mail account, confirmed my address and signed me up!


MaryMalone

I signed it, as well.


Bob

Anyone know what the current status of San Luis Obispo City Fire THUG Ryan Mason is? Is he still on administrative desk duty or is he back on duty responding to calls.?


Yes, SLO Fire & Police associations. Your cowardly support of Mason cost you all big time!


zaphod
dangerous county

YAY KAREN….OUR OWN ERIN BROCKOVICH!!!


MaryMalone

QUOTING BOB:

Anyone know what the current status of San Luis Obispo City Fire THUG Ryan Mason is? Is he still on administrative desk duty or is he back on duty responding to calls.?


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I think Mason’s current status is one where deputy prosecutor Karen Gray is carrying him around on a sedan-chair and giving him back rubs.