San Luis Obispo police chief accused of coverup over stolen gun

July 25, 2019

Chief Deanna Cantrell

Clarification: The chief left her personal weapon, a Glock 42 which holds six rounds, in the restroom and not her department issued gun. Sean Greenwood called the SLO Police Department at 7 p.m. on July 11 to report he had the chief’s gun.


The search for the pistol that San Luis Obispo Police Chief Deanna Cantrell lost in a bathroom stall resulted in an apparently illegal search of a home without a warrant and the arrest of a couple on charges of child neglect for having a messy house. And, new information points to Cantrell’s efforts to keep the news of her loss quiet despite her claim that she immediately reported the stolen gun. [Cal Coast Times]

Cantrell left her pistol, a Glock with a 6-round magazine, in the bathroom of an El Pollo Loco restaurant about noon on July 10. A short time later, Cantrell realized she did not have her weapon and returned to the restaurant bathroom. The pistol was not there.

In contrast to Cantrell’s claim that she immediately reported her gun stolen, several officers said her attempt to cover-up the theft of her gun risked officer safety and led to the search of the home of a man incorrectly identified as the person suspected of taking the chief’s gun.

Typically, after a loaded police firearm is stolen, a be on the lookout (BOLO) is put out to area law enforcement not only to help quickly recover the stolen weapon, but also to protect officer and public safety.

However, for the first two hours, Cantrell conducted the investigation into her stolen gun without reporting the theft. Cantrell checked surveillance footage at the restaurant and saw that three people had entered the restroom after her, two of whom were still in the restaurant and did not have her gun, Cantrell said.

Two hours after Cantrell discovered her gun was missing, she called police dispatch and asked police department employee Christine Steeb to call her back, cell phone to cell phone, in an apparent attempt to keep the call from being recorded, said a SLO police officer, who asked to remain anonymous to protect his employment. Steeb said the chief provided information about her lost gun on a non-recorded line because of issues with the city’s phone system.

“The call fell off so I called her back on my cell phone,” Steeb said.

A call of lost property is listed in the dispatch log at 2:09 p.m.

The last person, who was the first to enter the restroom after Cantrell left, was not in the restaurant when the chief returned to look for her firearm. The man, later identified as 30-year-old Skeeter Carlos Mangan of Los Osos, was shown in the video –  clean-shaven, balding and wearing a black jacket and shorts.

Shortly before 7 p.m., a group of five detectives were dispatched to a home on O’Connor Way after an officer said a man who lived in the home resembled the man in the video. However, the dispatch log shows the officers were sent to El Pollo Loco on Los Osos Valley Road for a lost property report.

The group of police drew the attention of a man living in the house with his wife and two children.

The man, who is not being identified by CalCoastNews, came out to ask the officers what was going on. The man had a full beard and mustache.

Skeeter Mangan

Even so, detectives Jason Dickel and Suzie Walsh told the man that they knew he had stolen the chief’s pistol and ordered him to tell them where it was, the man said. He told the officers he had been in Atascadero with his wife and two children at a medical appointment and that he had not been at El Pollo Loco in SLO.

The man’s wife and the couple’s two daughters also came out of the house and spoke with officers. The wife said she offered to call the doctor so he could confirm they were in Atascadero at the time the gun was stolen, but the detectives said no. The wife said she heard several officers noting her husband clearly was not the clean-shaven man seen in the video.

Walsh then asked the man if she could search his home. He asked if she had a warrant.

“Jason Dickel said I was on probation and he did not need a warrant,” the man said. “I told him I had court documents showing it was another family member who was on probation, but he did not want to see the documents. He said ‘you have the gun and we are going in to get it.’”

After the officers entered the house and kicked down the parents’ bedroom door, they arrested the man and his wife on charges of child neglect. The house was unclean, officers said, and they took the children into county custody. The girls, 7 and 9, remained in the police station until after 2 a.m. the next day, the man’s wife said.

In support of removing the children from their parents’ custody, Carrie Bailey, a county social worker, claimed a photograph taken in the parents’ bedroom of paraphernalia was taken in the children’s bedroom. When asked about the misstatement, Debra Barriger, a deputy county counsel, said the county is not permitted to disclose information about child custody issues.

At 7:30 p.m., more than seven hours after the chief’s gun was stolen. SLO police patrol officers were notified for the first time that the chief had lost her gun, a patrol officer said.

In contrast to Cantrell’s timeline, SLO County Sheriff Chief Deputy Aaron Nix said that between 8 p.m. and 9 p.m. on July 10, SLO Police Department employees requested the sheriff’s department assist them in finding the gun. A sheriff watch commander then asked why they had not informed area law enforcement through a BOLO alert, and gave SLO police dispatch a 30 minute window to send out an officer safety BOLO alert to area law enforcement.

“We inquired as to whether they intended to put out an Officer Safety BOLO,” Nix said. “SLOPD Dispatch advised they did intend to send out a BOLO and we offered to assist them in that regard. We told them we would re-contact them in about a half an hour to check on their progress, and we later confirmed they had in fact put out the BOLO.”

At approximately 7 p.m. on July 11, Mangan’s brother-in-law Sean Greenwood called the SLO Police Department to report he and Mangan had the chief’s gun, Greenwood said. Cantrell then sent officers to Los Osos to retrieve the firearm.

Following a two-day investigation, SLO City Manager Derek Johnson fined Cantrell $1,600 for violating city policy regarding keeping weapons concealed at all times. Johnson praised Cantrell for her “integrity throughout the incident.”


Congratulations SLOPD you made it to Bad Cop No Donut

Happiest town in America indeed.



Now we know the rest of the story.

Deanna Cantrell has CLEARLY misled the accurate portrayal of these events, and it’s now abundantly obvious that she wasn’t transparent about her actions and decisions involving her leaving a loaded service weapon in the bathroom at El Pollo Loco.

The events described in this story show a police chief panicked and unwilling to follow accepted protocols, and Ms. Cantrell’s betrayal of department standards is an afront to good policing and the rule-of-law. Storming into someone’s residence is un-American and shows the depths of Cantrell’s despair; inviolving other LEO’s in her ill-concieved actions displays lack of leadership, and putting out a false and incomplete story to the public shows that she is not the face of ‘transparencey’ as she and others have described.

What next?

SLO City Police Chief Deanna Cantrell should be fired for cause, and recieve no settlement or ‘go away’ money, she has disgraced the SLO Police Department and her actions are not those of a normal leader. Discarding her loaded service weapon in a public bathroom is enough, but, coupled with the actions described in this story, IT IS CLEAR THAT CANTRELL NOW HAS TO GO.

The SLO City Council and SLO City Manager Derek Johnson have participated in the cover up of these events and now they have compromised their ability to hold their employee accountable. SLO City Mayor Heidi Harmon, with her remarks accusing Cantrell’s detractors of homophobia and mysoginy, has lost credibility on this issue, and I seriously doubt that she can now display the leadership necessary for good governance.

In conclusion: Cantrell has to go, Harmon once again shows an inability to lead and bad judgement. City Manager Derek Johnson is compromised and hand-tied as he has already blessed Cantrell and her stupidity. SLO City Human Resource Director Monica Irons is leadership AWOL on this issue, AND THE BIGGEST LOSERS, ONCE AGAIN, ARE THE LOCAL TAXPAYERS WHO ARE FUNDING ALL OF THIS NONSENSE AND INCOMPETENCY.

When will this all end? We deserve better, and we now know that they lied, covered for each other and misrepresented the facts.

Let’s clean house with a new council and new upper management and police chief.


Outgoing City Manager Katie Lichtig bagged SLO by making the choice to bring in Cantrell over two local captains that wanted the chief job. Then Lichtig split for Santa Monica bagging SLO with her naive decision. In Arizona, Cantrell wasn’t running real-time operations where you must make quick precise judgments per procedure. She was running a crime lab which takes a different mentality of slow tedious work where you take weeks to form an opinion and plan of actions. To add salt to the wound, SLO paid Lichtig a retention $5000 bonus in 2016 and then she split to Santa Monica a year later anyway. Makes you wonder why Lichtig picked Cantrell over locals versed in real-time operations.


According to the video recorded by Chief Cantrell she said she reported the lost gun immediately, I guess for her 8 1/2 hrs is immediately. I hope if I ever need her department because my life is in danger and I tell them I need an officer immediately that the officers who respond have a different idea of immediately.


Not only that, but the police have no duty to protect you. This has gone to court dozens of times, all with the same result. You should read the details of Warren v. District of Columbia, where the police were repeatedly called for a burglary in progress, and the victims were raped continuously for 14 hours.

Only you are responsible for your own safety. If your life is in danger, good luck calling someone else to get them to come and save you.


Police….all police, including and especially those who make chief, tell giant lies every day. They are taught to do this. Good police work relies on lies, threats and “hunches” which more often than not violate the rights of serfs.

What am I talking about? They tell lies everyday? WTF?

Every cop posing undercover is lying. Every sting operation is a lie. Every report the police write is heavily biased in their favor and against the hapless soul they arrest in order to gain convictions/confessions/pleas. Good cop/Bad cop is built on lies. Interrogation is based on lies, “Your friends said you did it Johnny….” Getting people who have been arrested to plead guilty to a lesser crime is based on lies.

Police lie constantly. You can’t be a “good” cop without telling lies, stretching the truth, etc.

And now Chief Cantrell is caught acting the way all cops act. What a surprise! Dickle’s name has come up a few times in the past and not in a good way, either. He was lying a whole bunch in a couple instances. Research it.

The real story here is WE, The People. We know our police are dishonest, overpaid, self-serving and on the take. We know this. Despite knowing this we:

Worship uniforms

Pretend their jobs are dangerous. *being a cop is NOT dangerous. It’s not even in the top 10 most dangerous jobs

Lie to ourselves that we “need” police

Pretend the police will actually help us

ad naseum.

Cantrell, if she retires, will do so with full benefits. The next chief will also be a self-serving, CYA liar, like the rest of them. That’s what you need on your resume to be a cop.

But the real pathetic losers are WE, The People. We stand by and let all this happen. We take the posture of victims and vanquished when dealing with cops. No wonder they think they can get away with anything! Their experience tells them they can.


Totally agree, especially with your last point. For all the lying, cheating, and over-spending that takes place in any county or city government – the real losers are us, the voters.

We sat back and did nothing, while systems were put in place and have evolved to what exists today. The back-patting, looking out for each other mentality that is in place is there because we; the voters, do not give a damn. We will let a city or county government rob us blind and tell us all kinds of lies – and not do a thing about it.

And the ones in government positions know this to be a fact. They may be liars and cheats, but they are not dumb. They are just taking advantage of the system they put in place; knowing it will not change with current voter apathy. They have the good life – at our expense.


Well said, DocT. I doubt you and I would agree on many things politically, but you are totally right about law enforcement.


Meanwhile…crickets from all other local news about this. It’s so ridiculous.


Illegal police harrassment of the press to reveal sources is not out of the question. Google SFPD and Carmody.


Wow. Well, I have had a first person experience with the dirty bald headed cop called dicklehead. Being one ☝️ the infamous doobie dozen, his henchmen killed our dog arrested us for no reason. No charges no nothing because Jason Dickle doesn’t give a rats ass about people’s rights. Hey Dickle, how is your friend and past fellow officer Corey Pierce who spent 18 months in federal prison? I hoe you get hung for violating people’s privacy dirty pig.


Yep. I also saw Dickle’s name. I am aware of two instances where this cop’s actions resulted in large settlements to his victims. But he’s a great guy to have a beer with…..and then drive home drunk.


To determine the context of the cover-up, a team of impartial investigators would need to interview her to see if she knew of all the procedures she violated. When a procedure is violated it can be a result of ignorance or willful disregard. If she didn’t know the procedure it’s Procedural Omission. If she willingly violated procedures maybe like using a non-recorded line for a possible gun theft crime, then that’s Procedural Disregard. A Procedural Omission precondition is usually dealt with training with no monetary penalty; whereas, Procedural Disregard in real-time almost always result in suspension on the 1st occurrence and termination on the next willful disregard occurrence. If her superior deviates from these norms, then the superior is creating Defacto Policy outside normal procedures.


There is no way a CHIEF could claim ignorance.


Local govt officials continue to pull criminal and unfair crap like this. Yet some still can’t understand why a growing number of taxpayers view people like Chief Deanna Cantrell and City Administrator Derek Johnson with utter disdain and growing contempt.

SLO deserves better, Johnson and Cantrell! Do the honorable thing and resign! You’re not wanted here! Please let capable and respected people fill your key positions so SLO can heal.


SLO is not going to heal if only Johnson and Cantrell leave. The infection of corruption is too deep within the city. It’s going to take a lot more cleaning out of the nasty wound to fix the problems here.