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.”


We all know what is coming next, some type of government speak as to why the body cam footage of the detectives is not available, maybe technical problems. Also so type of Chief Harmon’s famous “miscommunications” as to why the telephone recordings are not available, and no reports of telephone system problems before or after she made her famous attempt to report her missing gun. If all of this is Chief Harmon’s idea of transparency I don’t think we need any more of her type. And still over 8 hrs before the BOLO was issued and we are to believe this again was due to miscommunications, come on Chief Cantrell just the truth, don’t we deserve it….

hold it what

KSBY, before you report on a story, either, get your facts straight or report all of the facts not just what makes the slo elite look good. i have heard that you cater to those in power but have never believed it until now. i know the family involved in this fiasco and know the truth about what happened to the family. The SLOPD chief is not being truthful.

The man that they arrested that afternoon was not on any probation. When the SLOPD stormed the residence, and the man arrested told them that he had the documents proving that he was not on probation, the good officer replied, ‘ i don:t care’.

SLOPD has no jurisdiction in an unincorporated area where the residence is. in their zest to recover their own weapon that put many lives in danger, directly affecting a child that walked into that bathroom, to say nothing of the unstable man that did take the weapon. they purposely didn’t alert the sheriff office because that would have meant that another police agency would have possibly recovered the weapon in question, in my opinion.

The gun situation was far worse than a dirty house. the SLOPD chief didnt forget her cell phone though, maybe she should start carrying a smaller weapon, say, say 9 rounds, that would better fit the area where she carries her cell phone, that way we wont have to fear for our lives, oh wait, i guess we wouldn’t know anyway, would we, until after the fact.

Anyway, this family is going through hell now, it is a bad situation for them, the children absolutely love their parents and the parents absolutely love those children. Even though the parents are going through hell. so are the children, and of course the children don’t fully understand all of the lies being perpetrated by our local agencies on, “their behalf”, to protect them.

social services has let this family down on many occasions

probation department has let this family down on many occasions

the police department has let this family down on many occasions

and other local agencies

This family is destitute, they need money to survive, daily, and money to hire lawyers. CAL COAST NEWS, please start a ‘go fund me’ account for them or an account where people can donate for this family.They are trying to clean their act up because they desperately want to see their children and need help putting their lives back together. the county has unlimited amounts of cash that they can and will use to keep this family apart, giving them almost no chance at ever putting their lives back together.

I don’t know what should happen to the police chief, i just know that this family is now being put through hell because of a serious mistake that had nothing to do with them.

Thank you


If I didn’t know better I would have thought this story was about some corrupted chief of police in Tijuana Mexico….or Venezuela….


The weapon the chief was carrying was about as small as it gets, a 6 round .38 caliber Glock 42 weighing less than 1lb loaded and less than an inch wide intended for concealed carry. Detectives typically carry something similar. The big guns with high capacity magazines are for officers in uniform with a gun belt, including the chief when so dressed. As to the family needing money for lawyers, I think not. The lawyers will be kicking down their doors, figuratively speaking.

hold it what

Yes, my mistake on the size of the gun, originally it was reported to be the weapon she carries when in uniform, Now we know that it was in fact a weapon that she carried when out of uniform or off duty i suppose,.

As for the family needing money, they still need money to make their house hold up to, Suzie’s standards, Deanna’s standards, Heidi’s standards, Dickel’s standards, Social services’ standards, the court’s standards, and whomever else’s standards that wants to get in line, demanding standards, I wonder how many of us would hold hold up to all of those standards.

All of this while not having nor being able to work due to the reason this happened to them in the first place. No one will hire someone on probation even if they have documentation that proves otherwise.

So, please go their ‘gofundme’. page and help them out, any amount will do, a buck is one more buck towards their goal.

Thank You


I strongly encourage you to have them contact an attorney if they haven’t yet. They should have no problem getting someone to take this case.

hold it what

Lawyers have come forth and taken up the case.

Thank you


Watch out, these immature brats called police officers will lash out like a wounded animal if they are embarrassed. This whole system needs to be reset. I’m so so so sick of it. The way this family was treated would have caused a war in any other time. Treating families like this disgusts me to no end. Absolutely disgusting pigs are running wild in SLO and we bend over and take it. What is it going to take, men?


Watch out, these immature brats called police officers will lash out like a wounded animal if they are embarrassed.

So true! They also cover for each other.

This whole system needs to be reset. I’m so so so sick of it.

Absolutely! For a long time I thought I was being overly critical, but no more. The citizens of SLO deserve better than individuals like Heidi Harmon, Derek Johnson, Chief Cantrell, et. al. Each of these (and many others) are objectively poor performers, yet they have important and powerful positions and they get paid a lot of $$$



What did she have for lunch at El Pollo Loco that day? I have to know. Was it a burrito? Maybe a taco? Could it have been a chimichanga? Hot salsa or mild? Why wasn’t this reported? I must know. I smell a conspiracy. The facts must be reported. What are they hiding from us?


Significance of clarification of the weapon unclear. LE higher ups, not on patrol, don’t want or need to be loaded for bear. They carry a gun for sure, but usually not the larger weapon and additional magazines you see your typical cop with.


The City has issued a statement regarding the matter and deny the allegations made in this article. How do we know what’s true?

“The City of San Luis Obispo has been transparent about this incident from the beginning. Recent allegations and insinuations are simply not true. The following facts are provided to ensure accurate public information.

Chief Cantrell took several actions when she realized her gun was no longer in the restroom at El Pollo Loco within the following 2 hours:

Gaining access to and review of the video footage

Contact with persons that entered the restroom

Notification to San Luis Obispo Police Department Captain

Check of cameras at adjoining businesses

Notification to the recorded San Luis Obispo Police Department dispatch line

Notification to the City Manager

San Luis Obispo Police Department social media post regarding the lost firearm released

The lost firearm was entered into the national database

Lost firearm case assigned to San Luis Obispo Police Department Officer

There was a delay in issuing the law enforcement notification teletype (BOLO), which was the product of an internal miscommunication, but there was no direction from anyone including the Chief not to send the teletype.

The City Attorney has reviewed the facts of the search of the home and resulting arrests for child neglect and is confident that San Luis Obispo Police Department Detectives acted legally and appropriately. One of the individuals arrested is on searchable bench probation and the Probation Department was on site at the time of contact. The terms of the probation include a requirement that he submit to searches of his person, home or car, on request by any law enforcement officer, without a warrant or probable cause. In addition, the condition of the home that led to the arrests was visible from the front door. No doors were kicked down and the minor children were not kept at the Police Department overnight. The Police Department was not notified that the gun was located in Los Osos until the day after the arrests.

We applaud the San Luis Obispo Police Department Detectives and our law enforcement partners in the Sheriff’s Department, Probation, and Child Protective Services for ensuring the safety of the children involved and trust that all other matters stemming from the incident will be fairly and appropriately resolved through the criminal courts and Child Protective Services.”


Is this Ms Dietrick, the corrupt City Attonrey operating under Katie Lickit? And we are to believe her….? Hardly a credible person and especially an Attorney!


Totally internal this comment seems, probably not from a Journalist also. Maybe those kids were in a bad situation but; false arrest, entry without warrant; lawsuites will total at least 100k, that payout is on my pocket. Protected class in slo, doesn’t matter your orientation around here either. Guilty until proven innocent in Slo* how the hell she has a job is beyond me. Next to shooting an unarmed minority whom was pregnant, this takes the cake. And we all know child protective services across the USA and here in Slo as in Paso can be biased and a threat to many, good work and bad.


Awesome! City has been transparent…. That means they will have no objection to release all cell phone records and replay out loud for the public the conversation that got dropped on the recorded line. Also, they will have no problem releasing the body-cam footage for the incident at the O’Conner Way residence. Especially since tax dollars are paying for the cam’s, phones, radios, and recording software. I’d be interested in a statement from the Sheriff since SLO police went into the county jurisdiction to hassle the alleged filthy house folks on O’Conner Way. Did SLO Police dispatch notify the Sheriff dispatch first or were there cell phone or radio calls asking for Sheriff assistance at that residence? Katrina on KSBY got played. Cantrell’s voice is no where in that KSBY interview. Why didn’t Cantrell agree to a taped interview with KSBY? Something doesn’t smell right!

Applying two substitution tests to see if there is equality between the Chief and her officers. 1st test: If a SLO police captain leaves a gun in a bathroom do they review store cameras before notifying their department an hour or so later. Is there a procedure or guideline and what is the specified reporting time criteria? 2nd substitution test: Is the $1600 discipline with no time off the same punishment an officer could expect for the same infraction?


A review of the video from Pollo Loco, the exterior cameras and from the cameras in Target show the chief left the restroom and entered Target to go shopping. 24 minutes after entering Target she realized he gun was missing and then ran back to Pollo Loco to retrieve it from the bathroom.

The city of SLO and the chief are downplaying this whole thing and they need to be called out on it. Seven hours after losing her gun SLOPD issued a BOL. The chief says their is no legal requirement to do this. Well there are legal requirements and then their are best practices. The best practice is to keep custody of your sidearm and if you lose it to immediately notify fellow law enforcement in case it has fallen into the hands of a criminal. But the chief failed in the areas of best practices; first losing her gun and then trying to get it back without anyone outside SLOPD knowing about it. What does that say about her “real” character?


LMAO! The last people I would believe would be the city of SLO. SLO leadership is a joke and has no credibility to be believed on anything.

Bob Lyon

In her recorded statement here, the Chief alleges that the man “stole” her firearm; looks to me more that he “found” it, and then committed a criminal act by not turning it in. I am curious what he was charged with, I am curious if the man in Los Osos was in fact on probation, and am wondering where the children that were taken spent the night. I would also like to know if there is a recording of the Chief’s call to dispatch that actually has where the call supposedly “dropped”. The Chief’s statement on KSBY dot com still leaves a lot of unanswered questions, IMO.


Freedom of info act, and CA law states as a journalist you can obtain records. Contact Karen here or KCBX Tyler Pratt. Or say you’re a free lance journalist.


It’s not only a Police Department issue this plagues the City of San Luis Obispo, its manager, employees and the policies and code of ethics for government employees. How much do we spend on Human Resources to do their job?

Have we forgotten about the Building Inspector that assaulted and injured a woman and her friend at Rick’s Bar in Avila back in May 2016.

The City employee, Chris Olcott, is STILL ON PAID ADMINISTRATIVE LEAVE and the City says it”s reviewing and investigating this matter. SINCE 2016! The legal process is done and the couple involved are suing Mr. Olcott. I guess when you are personal friends with the City Manager, Derek Johnson, your old boss when Derek was the Planning Director before his promotion, whom you are friends with and socialize with, exchange Christmas gifts with and consider your buddy it would take longer to come to a conclusion of action.

But then, just look at the Council and the racist, socialist actions and decisions of the Mayor and the top leadership. When you are in bed with the devil you become part of the problem and not the solution.

I have one question regarding this article! It states… “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.” Is Ms Steeb stating there was a problem with the Dispatch Phone System and was this reported to a Supervisor, Watch Commander, etc and since this is the lifeline for the City residents why was it down for this call only or how many others calls were affected? This is an extremely expensive system for the City and the people have a right to know, OR, was it just more coverup!

The People of San Luis Obispo deserve better for the amount of money we pay these “top, highly educated, qualified City Employees!”

paul drake

Wow, too bad she wasn’t the police chief from Grover Beach then Adam Hill could use his cronies and get her of Scott free.