Officers aware of mistaken identity, raid SLO County home anyway

October 14, 2020

Photo of the suspect and Cheyne Orndoff on July 10, 2019


A San Luis Obispo County probation supervisor testified that he told officers who were about to search a couple’s home to look for the police chief’s gun, that they got it wrong.

Supervising Deputy Probation Officer Jeremiah Malzhan testified he told other officers that a security video of the man suspected of taking then-San Luis Obispo Police Chief Deanna Cantrell’s gun from a restaurant bathroom did not look like Cheyne Orndoff.

The man in the video was clean-shaven. Orndoff had a full beard and mustache. A dash cam video shows Malzhan stroking his chin as he looks over at Orndoff while speaking with several San Luis Obispo police officers and a sheriff’s deputy.

But despite Malzhan’s concerns that they were about to conduct a search of the wrong man’s home, SLO police officers went ahead with the raid.

Although they did not find the chief’s pistol, officers made a video of the dirty house and paraphernalia in the parent’s bedroom. They arrested Orndoff and Vanessa Bedroni on child neglect charges.

Attorneys for the couple are asking Judge Tim Covello to throw out evidence gathered during the search, arguing that the warrentless July 2019 search was unconstitutional and inadmissible in their case under the exclusionary rule.

The exclusionary rule prevents the government from using any evidence obtained through violation of a defendant’s constitutional rights, here the 4th Amendment protection against “unreasonable searches and seizures.”

SLO City Attorney Christine Dietrick contends that the officers who conducted the search had reasonable good faith they were conducting a proper search. In such circumstances, case law allows evidence to be used in prosecutions.

The question is, did the officers act in good faith?

Bedroni’s attorney Peter Depew argues that the officers did not.

The officers who searched the couple’s home relied on their belief that Orndoff was on probation because they looked at partial information in a database that listed him as a probationer. Probationers cannot prevent searches of their property.

But Orndoff was not on probation.

Depew pointed out that there was a tag on the law enforcement database that noted Orndoff was not on probation. A tag that neither a police dispatcher nor a probation officer remember reading while they looked up Orndoff’s status.

Shortly after the unwarranted raid, Dietrick said the officers could see into the filthy home from the front yard, giving officers cause to enter the home without a warrant.

At a hearing two weeks ago, officer Jason Dickel testified that he could not see inside the home from the yard because of the slope. However, Dickel said the front door was open, and he could see inside the house while standing on the porch.

But, video from a police car dash cam shows the screen door, which completely blocks the view of the interior of the house, was closed until the officers entered the home.

On Oct. 15, the court is scheduled to resume the hearing on the motion to suppress the evidence collected during the warrantless search.

Even if the video of the dirty house is ruled inadmissible, Dietrick ensured that it would be seen by the public. While the case is still pending, she gave a copy to the SLO Tribune. In other cases, police and prosecutors have refused to make evidentiary videos available saying that they could not do so because the case had not been resolved.

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While I disagree with the outcome of the hearing, I strongly differ with ‘hold it what’s’ characterization of Judge Covello.

He is a scrupulously honest person and not afraid to make an unpopular decision. All judges are faced with making decisions based on what they understand the law and precedents to be, and in many cases, they may personally prefer a different outcome. A good judge makes tough calls in spite of personal preferences.

I suspect that Judge Covello was as repulsed by the comedy of errors by the keystone cops as are so many. Their motivations to cover for the Chief was obvious but they seem to have been saved by precedents established by case law. Again, one can quibble with Judge Covello’s interpretation (as I) but I would never doubt his integrity and his right to make the decision he did.

I hope that the appellate courts will find he committed a legal error. But I can guarantee you, they will not find that he didn’t make a good faith effort to uphold the law as he understood it to be.

The courts of this county would be far better off if all judges adhered to Judge Covello’s ethical standards.

JohnnyBoy, I’m sure your description of judge Covello is right on.

So then I guess it had to come down to who/what the impact of his decisions would affect.

There is this big machine called government, (in this case city government), and there is this sap, (orndoff). The judge now has a decision to make. Both have done something wrong.

The impact on the machine, is there has to be some retooling, (trainings, revised procedures, maybe some personnel issues, eat crow) and compensation for the pain and suffering the machine’s actions caused.

On the other hand, chalk it off as a ‘one in a million error, no retooling, no training, no personnel issues, no eating crow, easy piecie, the machine keeps on going as usual. The only impact is on the sap, and since it is a ‘one in a million’ error it’s gonna be ok and the impact will only be on one unimportant family.

You know, I don’t think that when our founding fathers wrote the ‘BILL OF RIGHTS’ they meant unless there is a ‘one in a million’ error, or they would have include that caveat in the ‘BILL OF RIGHTS’.

If the rights of one person are violated in any way, then the system has failed, if it fails for one person then it fails for all of us.

Can you now trust that your rights will not be violated, even in error, and if so, that somebody somehow will correct it and restore your rights?

If you still believe that, tell us, who, where, and how.

The system has failed, Orndoff and Bedroni, so far, at every turn. These are the government agencies that have failed them for many years,

– Social Services

– victims of crime for Bedroni

– victims advocate for Bedroni

– Sherriff crime investigations for


– probation for Orndoff

– Pismo Beach for Orndoff

– Courts for Orndoff

– SLOPD for both

– Sherriff for both

– Morro Bay police for Orndoff

And a few other community partners and agencies that I’m not at liberty to say.

And it just keeps on going.

S Walsh, is feeling pretty good right now, as well as her hubby, and her partner, Sargent Dickle. They think that they did something good, even if they had to embellish the truth, the outcome for them justifies the means. Pretty shallow if you ask me. What do you think is happening to the children now and will happen to the children in the future (mentally). The only thing they achieved is the real possibility that these children will grow up all screwed up and end up in the system.

As the good judge put it,” yes, the children will be adversely affected, but that can’t be helped” or words to that effect when Orndoff’s lawyer was pleading for the judge to show mercy, as he had the power to make things right.

Good going SLOPD. Susie, here is an idea, along with your fervent desire to save children from their parents. Take some prevention and assistance training for families in need, see if maybe you can stop the cycle by offering real help to make a real difference in peoples life’s instead of just taking their lives away, hmmm, that would probably take more work though.

I feel myself getting sick of all of this.

I don’t trust going into SLO, especially now, too many thugs with guns. It’s too bad for the good cops, everybody can tell who the bad apples are but they do spoil the whole bunch.

Stay well and stay safe

I’ve said it before and now sadly, I have to say it again, our justice system is in the toilet!

The last hope was that judge Covello would see through the lies of our esteemed SLOPD officers. As the hearing progressed it became evident that he, the judge, was not interested in the truth. It would be interesting to find out how many times objections by the DA were sustained in contrast with the defences and the same for overruling. Seemed to me that the DA could and did whatever he wanted and the defense were suppressed from creating any foundations of any kind to form a defense.

The defendants never had a chance against the current judicial system. The judge didn’t want to hear that the urine test once retested came back negative, oh yes, the expert that they brought in, testified that the reason that could have happened was because the minute trace amount that was there when she tested the sample, could have dissipated by the time it was retested, but then also testified that she did not know how long that minute trace amount found, would take to dissipate from the point of ingestion as that was not her field of expertise, but did agree that the minute traces found, could be picked up from anywhere, even in her extra clean lab, and the specimen would then be tainted. Nope, not good enough.

The defense was shut down by the judge so many times that the outcome became obvious.

The saddest part was when he came back to deliver his findings, he was bending so far towards the prosecution, (that I though they were going to hold hands), finding every reason to justify what happened to Cheyne and Vanessa in favor of the prosecution.

The judge, (someone that we have had a hand in putting on the bench to be fair and to make sure our rights are not violated, by anyone, specially law enforcement as they should be held to a higher standard), said that even though Cheyne’s 4th ammendment rights were violated, that it was OK, because the error that caused this was ‘one in a million and that it was not reasonable to expect for those who are responsible to pass information on to the officers in the field, to look at everything.

So, I guess this time it’s ok to just trample on somebody’s 4th ammendment rights, cause after all it’s a ‘one in a million’ error. Hey, I guess we should just not expect people with guns to have thorough information on us when contacting us, hopefully no one else will get that bad lottery ticket huh! I guess it’s just too bad for Cheyne and Vanessa.

Have a question for you Susie, (what a cute name, Susie, makes you think of innocence, doesn’t it), since you testified about all of your experience and career focus and training in one particular field, do you also know, (learn), what you have say in order to make a better case, to include descriptions? I’m curious because your description terms in your testimony did not match the pictures that you admittedly took.

You know it’s not just one thing that makes a bad apple but the totality of things.

Hey, how about all of the Detectives that were there that day. I was thinking of a basic test that a detective should have to pass before any other tests are given in order to see if that officer is detective material. They should have to look at 2 pictures and DETECT, all by themselves, if the persons on both pictures are the same person, given them some time parameters of course. Like maybe 2 weeks apart all the way to hours apart, (time difference on the pictures), and they would have maybe ten minutes from the time they were able to see both pictures together. Wonder what the results would be for the SLOPD detectives, hmmm, maybe more training?

Anyway, I’ve gone too long. Again.

I’m just not feeling like I trust our system anymore or feel safe for that matter, I mean if your dog is around and you happen to get the wrong officer talking to you, you might be having to get a new dog if your lucky enough to not get shot yourself, but I guess that’s gonna have to be ok too, another one of those, ‘One in a million’ things.

Ok, one more question, and then I’m done

How many people does it take to affect change?

Everybody that feels affected,

if the no one cares, then it becomes the norm and there is a name for that,

Acceptance, (lot’s of that going around, lol),

Maybe you’ll pull that ‘one in million’ ticket, I hope for your sake it’s a million bucks and not this.

Don’t get caught up in the system and if you do, well, I wish you good luck, it will not go well for you, even if you are the ‘one in a million’ victim.

Stay well stay safe

I wasn’t in the courtroom but what I have read and heard more or less lines up with your piece. I too supported Covello so I hope you are wrong about this.

Perhaps in an appeal to a higher court, if something was afoul, the defendants will get a measure of justice.

This whole story sort of baffles me and reads like a script from one of those movies about a small southern town with a corrupt sheriff and the whole law enforcement and justice apparatchik being in on it. I really hope I am wrong.

“One in a million” is an exaggeration statement used to cease looking for the actual error rate. That statement or paraphrased one in a million certainly deserves to be challenged immediately by the defense lawyer calling the Probation Dept supervisor as a witness and asking these questions: Was this solely an issue of an incomplete visual scan by one person? Do the visual displays look different between the dispatcher’s screen and the field tablet device? Have you made technology changes recently as a result of this error? Do you keep running totals of employee and also data quality errors? What is your error rate per thousand on each? When was the last time you did a database audit? How often do you audit? What were the resultant changes you’ve seen or made to preclude the same error in the future? Are you addressing the error with training?

Typically good meter readers that enter 6-digits readings by hand have an error rate of 2 per thousand. Data entry and call center employees have similar metrics that they’re graded upon. There’s stuff happening behind the scenes to address these questions, but nobody wants to show their dirty laundry if it can affect their livelihood.