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.”


Too bad the ‘chief’ didn’t have the balls to allow comments on her youtube apology. I guess she didn’t want to have to listen to how many of us think she created a HUGE cluster f with her series of boo-boos. So glad to know that law enforcement is led by such an upstanding example of truth and proper procedure said no one ever. Oh and the poor people who got their door kicked in by another female officer, wow, as a woman who supports the 2nd amendment, i’m proud to have these 2 douchebags protecting me. not.


San Luis Obispo sure has knack for pickin ’em, both employees and elected officials.


I have a few questions:

1. Why did Dickle and partner choose to go to O’connor way?

2. Why does the dispatch report show them going to El Pollo Loco when they infact went to O’connor way?

3. Is there any history between the poor folks on O’Connor way and Officer Dickle?

Of course the rights of these poor people were egregiously violated by SLO PD. No warrant, no consent to a search, false arrest, etc. Of course the goons at CPS agreed that the kids needed to be “rescued,” from the messy house. These people have never met a kid who didn’t need a foster home.

But my final question is this:

Exactly when did we all decide that the police are a criminal organization and that we must accept it and try to live under it?

Think about it….we expect bad behavior from cops. We know they are on the take. We know that “good cops” don’t exist, because if they did they’d arrest their fellow officers, blow the whistle, etc. But they don’t, so please don’t give me any “but the good cops” crap. No such thing, unless they arrest their fellow officers. Period.

We know that getting shot and killed by cops is easy. Just walk towards them and reach into your pocket….We all know that they take steroids. We all know that they much higher rates of domestic violence and alcohol abuse than serfs. We know that they’ll seize assets if you have them. And on and on and on.

We accept this. We are somehow OK with our police being a criminal organization.

Cantrell lied to protect herself. What else is she willing to lie about to further her career? Evidence?

It’s long past time to withdraw support for police. Stop bowing and scraping. Don’t encourage your children, nieces, nephews or siblings to become cops. Avoid them. Never talk to them. Never call them.

We’d be much better off with Mafia. For one thing, the payments to mafia protection racketts are lower than our taxes.


and why is it the cops are the only ones who get to truly exercise the 2nd Amendment as it was crafted? I’m with you. I won’t trust a cop. Ever. I think they are a protected sub-culture on a power trip, with guns, and authority that none of us would ever approve of if we really knew what a bunch of thugs the majority of them are.


“The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.” –Thomas Jefferson (white Christian male, so don’t think about building a statue to him)


I wonder if a “Fire Cantrell” sticker on your car would have the same supposed influence of a Police Officer Association sticker associated with a contribution if you were pulled over for a moving violation by a SLOPD officer?


This whole fiasco started when Chief Cantrell lost her gun.

And the mere loss of the gun was not so concerning as compared to what if that gun ended up hurting someone or even several people.

Well, that gun did discharge, metaphorically speaking, in that great harm came to the O’Connor Way family and especially the CHILDREN!

All 21 rounds were symbolically fired that will ultimately be felt by at least 21 people involved from the O’Connor Way family, the 5 SLO detectives, the city manager, the mayor and council, the cell phone dispatcher, CPS, SLO Sheriff’s Department and now the taxpayer will probably end up paying the price in the end if litigation is brought.

All these chain of events happened because Cantrell couldn’t perform one of the most basic duties of a LEO.

Cantrell sent the ‘goon’ squad to O’Connor Way to enter without a warrant, harass under the color of the law and basically kidnap 2 children causing untold psychological damage to them and their parents. The agregious behavior exhibited by these LEO’s is directly attributable to Cantrell as the ‘buck stops with her’.

The gun may not have actually fired but it sure ended up hurting a lot of people!


Well said

Jorge Estrada

The initial report was very acceptable for a Police Chief trying to control her legacy and understandable as one human to another. What is troubling to me is how a blunder just got worse through the consequences of delegation. This may lend itself to be an example of how wrongful procedures can morph into a seriously wrongful outcome. I do not have anger towards the chief, just great concern over the lawlessness behavior within law enforcement. Again, this may be a great example of what not to do for the police academy students as well as for those who should know better. Their job is difficult at best and there is the possibility that right is not always might.


You’re hilarious Jorge. Being a cop today is morally wrong. Period. Pretending that academy students can be taught to be good people is reprehensible, intellectually dishonest and insulting.

If there were good cops, they’d have arrested Dickle, Suzie and Cantrell for committing crimes. And I’m sure these aren’t the first crimes…..just the one time they got caught, not that it matters.


Yup — they’d never have tolerated such “leadership.”

Born cops, guys of all colors who take on a dirty job of keeping peace as amicably as possible among wild folks before resorting to arrest or bullets, have it tough today. But they do exist, I know first hand multiple times. Good cops in a community do good exponentially, especially in how they deal with wild but decent kids.

There ARE good cops, a lot of ’em. They’re just not in charge and it’s not in their DNA to rag publicly on a fellow cop. But San Luis looks like it has a serious spectacle (is that a contradiction as a term?) on its hands!


Only 6 months academy and baby chin hairs or puberty hairs to be a cop around here. AR15 and ex military equipment ready. Anyone seen the tanks at farmers market the kids crawl on. Pretty cool until it’s used on you over false BS. And cops have only CPR, they aren’t EMT firefighters or Paramedics or practitioners. A few few few are. And those are detectives and code enforcement.


Let’s cut the bull. She caught a pass because she is female? Or an insider? Both?


All of the above. She could be a white nationalist or radical Islamic and get a pass. Don’t ask don’t tell around here, for the last 40 years.


I’m not sure which is more concerning, all the crimes Chief Cantrell committed covering up losing her gun or the fact that she thinks she has SLO City Manager Derek Johnson and SLO Mayor Harmon and the City Council wrapped around her finger such that nothing significant will happen to her. We know SLO City Manager Derek Johnson has no backbone and the chief controls his strings but I guess time will tell if Chief Cantrell also has the mayor and city council under her control.


Reading new comments as they come in is entertaining and fascinating … it is crystal clear that good cops, too darned rare, are to be cherished and valued.

BAD cops must be rousted out and run out of town on a RAIL … if a community has any brains at all, because unlike in most professions, bad police do bad exponentially.