Gun-Toting Supervisors’ Chairman Detained Man at Restaurant

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In a previously undisclosed incident, Orange County supervisors’ Chairman Todd Spitzer says he left a restaurant to get a gun from his car when a man acted threateningly towards him, then returned to the eatery to handcuff the man and detain him until sheriff’s deputies arrived.

The confrontation, which was first reported Thursday by CBS Los Angeles, took place at a Wahoo’s Fish Taco restaurant in the Foothill Ranch in early April.

Spitzer called 911 and told the dispatcher that a man had been harassing him at the restaurant and wouldn’t leave him alone, according to a recording of the call published by CBS.

The man had looked at a serrated knife on Spitzer’s table, Spitzer later told the station, which caused him to fear for his safety.  The man didn’t touch the knife, he added.

Spitzer said he then went to his car to get a gun and handcuffs, and went back into the restaurant, where he handcuffed the man and called 911 again.

When deputies arrived, they took the man – identified as Jeovany Castellano – and put him in the back of a patrol car, where he was briefly questioned and then released, according to CBS.

Sheriff’s officials say they investigated and found that Spitzer, who is chairman of the board that controls the sheriff’s budget, broke no laws.

Spitzer says he handled the situation extremely well.

“Honestly, I’m incredibly proud at how I handled the situation,” Spitzer told CBS, describing it as “textbook.”

Some commenters on the CBS story applauded his actions, while others said it was irresponsible – if not criminal – for him to go back into the restaurant and detain the man instead of waiting for law enforcement.

It’s unclear why news of the incident didn’t surface earlier, and why it’s now coming to light.

The CBS report doesn’t say when it took place, only describing it as “recently.”  The sheriff’s department, meanwhile, told Voice of OC Thursday that it happened four months ago, on April 3.

Click here for the full CBS story.

You can contact Nick Gerda at ngerda@gmail.com, and follow him on Twitter: @nicholasgerda.

  • Above the Law

    Mr. Spitzer should be recalled for continuing to operate above the law and put our County at risk. It is only legal to use physical force (handcuffing someone), if the suspect is trying to flee. Also, generally, you can only use citizen arrest for known felonies that you have witnessed and limited misdemeanors such as a bar fight. Not preaching and staring at a steak knife.

  • gazoo

    Have gun and taco…..will travel….

  • John Claxton

    On paper he seems like a sharp guy. His county biography shows he got his Masters and his law degree at the same time. Can that be done? His wife must have done his home work!

    TODD SPITZER, J.D., M.P.P.
    EDUCATION
    University of California, Berkeley M.P.P., Masters in Public Policy (1986-1989)
    University of California, Hastings College of the Law J.D., Law (1985-1989)

    • Jacki Livingston

      Why not? Wifey poo does his dirty deals at the Worker’s Comp courts, assigning herself to County employee cases long enough to feed hubby the confidential medical reports and other classified info he shouldn’t have. Then she assigns the case to one of Hot Toddy’s former clients, who he played White Knight for when she was injured in a brutal attack. She should recuse herself and his former clients, but she doesn’t.

  • OCservant_Leader

    Question: does this payout for “false arrest” come out of Spitzer’s Million Dollar campaign war chest or will the County cover this since he played the “I’m a supervisor” card during said arrest??

    If he was acting within his “official capacity ” then County will protect his personal assets correct?

    No wonder the Sheriff Deputies are pissed — that’s their money in that campaign war chest!!

    Now the dots are starting to connect in the weird statements from Spitzer. He is publically stating (in a well crafted response) he was acting in his “official capacity”.

    Vof OC can you find out if the County will pay Sup Spitzer’s settlement in this case??

    It must be a BIG settlement – the bible dude has absolute NO recollection…yea a good payout can shut you up pretty fast!

    • David Zenger

      He is publically stating (in a well crafted response) he was acting in his “official capacity”.

      Where is this?

      • OCservant_Leader

        In his own words as he described the event from 5 months ago – he stated “I am Supervisor Todd Spitzer to :
        1. Restaurant Manager (maybe he got the BOS discount)
        2. 911
        3. Bible-Toter as he cuffed him

        Was he eating lunch during official business, or protecting the bible-

  • kburgoyne

    Since the police released the man, Spitzer is now open to a “false arrest” lawsuit. “Arrest” does not technically have to mean a police officer did it. Police officers are simply the most common people doing it.

    Spitzer did technically “arrest” the individual by “arresting” his movement — the actual definition of “arrest”. Spitzer physically prevented the person (arrested his movement) from departing the scene.

    Since the police failed to find cause for the police to continue arresting the man’s movements, that strongly implies Spitzer lacked legitimate cause for arresting the man’s movements in the first place.

    While Spitzer has the right to defend himself, he does not have the right to physically arrest the movements of an individual who has not physically threatened Spitzer. What’s key here is Spitzer physically prevented the individual the option of departing the scene when the individual had committed no crime.

    It that situation Spitzer had the right to walk away, the right to ask the management of the establishment to ask the individual to leave the establishment, or call the police and ask them to determine whether the individual needed to be relocated for the purpose of keeping the peace. Even the police determined, after interviewing the individual, they lacked the grounds to prevent the individual from leaving the scene.

  • Jacki Livingston

    I would also ask why Hot Toddy is carrying cuffs around in his car. Was there a copy of “Fifty Shade of Gray” under them? Ugh! The only thing worse than knowing he is delusionally thinking he is some super hero, it is trying to imagine what he might be doing with handcuffs. I think I just threw up in my mouth a little.

  • Jacki Livingston

    Are you KIDDING me? Spitzer went outside, got a GUN and cuffs he just “happened” to keep in his vehicle, and came back in to engage a man who had not made any threatening or violent move? If anyone else had ever done anything so lame brained and reckless, they would be roasted. Hey, Toddikins? YOU ARE NOT A MEMBER OF LAW ENFORCEMENT! You are not Batman. You are a private citizen, and you escalated a situation that did not need to get to that level. I knew you were corrupt and on the take. I honestly did not think you were self-delusional and stupid.

    I stand corrected. Moron.

  • Debby Bodkin

    I am beyond shocked about this whole story but am very suspicious as to why it was kept a “secret” for 5 months and why Spitzer’s 10 years of experience in the LAPD was brought into the picture. Could it be the OC Sheriff Dept ‘s “powers in charge” wanted to punish Mr. Spitzer for the way he treated Ms. Muir at the recent BOS meeting and/or is there an underlying reason why the story was kept from the public.

    Anyone who has been around long enough in the OC knows that money drives most and this whole thing smells! Why would you publicly defame another individual who was arrested by Spitzer and never charged with a crime? Looks like more payouts to attorneys in the OC who may or may not be players in civil liability-backroom deals, aka another quid pro quo. Of course, this is all personal opinion… but, if and when a lawsuit is filed, it will be the same attorneys representing all parties involved and the taxpayers will be the ones to foot whatever payouts the County will be forced to pay out.

    • David Zenger

      “Could it be the OC Sheriff Dept ‘s “powers in charge” wanted to punish
      Mr. Spitzer for the way he treated Ms. Muir at the recent BOS meeting
      and/or is there an underlying reason why the story was kept from the
      public.”

      The answer is pretty simple. The deputies’ union and the Sheriff’s department both have a reliable supporter in Spitzer. So there’s that. Notice that the news was successfully hushed up for four moths – through budget time. And you’ll also notice that when Spitzer planned to can Stephen Connolly he suddenly did a 180 when Hutchens showed up to defend her lap dog. That’s basically resolved now too, with Spitzer capitulating.

      Nevertheless, there is no less liked figure in OC Republican circles and the news of Spitzer’s bizzare behavior was certain to get out eventually.

      Meantime Bible Dude can’t even seem to remember being cuffed and felt up in a public restaurant by a strange guy with a maniacal look in his eye. And that doesn’t seem to be the sort of thing you’d forget in a hurry if it happened to you.

  • David Zenger

    Hey! Don’t we have Laura’s Law to protect us from this sort of lunatic in a public place?

    Todd, I mean.

  • Kathleen Tahilramani

    Ever notice how Spitzer evades comment here on this issue? And not a piece of tableware in sight.

    • David Zenger

      C’mon, now. That knife was…SERRATED! Eeek!

      • Kathleen Tahilramani

        Wicked deadly ; )

        • kburgoyne

          …and it had that really threatening SPOON right next to it, which yes, maybe, perhaps, the person was actually glancing at instead. Hard to know for sure. But he DEFINITELY was NOT looking at the fork because they were on the other side of the place setting!!!!

          • Kathleen Tahilramani

            OMG, Spitzer was so lucky he did not have to deal with THE SPOON – spoons are so sinister. Just think of what a hero he could have been combating the deadly spoon/knife combo. He would have had to use his extra special reserve officer/kindergarten skills to survive. He could have saved the life of everyone at Wahoo’s. A hero in his own mind! Whew that was a close call.

          • David Zenger

            Spoons are duplicitous. EVIL. Convex on one side, concave on the other.

            But what about the paper napkins!!?? Who knows what some jacked-up, hippy Bible-toting pervert could have done with those weapons of mass destruction?!

            Lives hung in the balance!!!

            O! The humanity!!

            P.S. For the love of God, don’t forget the sinister condiments!!!

          • Kathleen Tahilramani

            Oh my,someone might get the “gag me with a spoon” hurt put on them, the devilish napkin spoon combination used by clever mass murderers, I know the answer – Todd must go to India where he can eat delicious food with his fingers….no need for the dreaded knife and spoon. He will have to leave his gun and cuffs home…..in India only real cops get those items.

          • David Zenger

            No, the dish ran away with the spoon.

            Must have taken the “fish combination” with them.

  • Kathleen Tahilramani

    Just read Spitzer’s responses to the comments on the Registers story about the wahoo’s incident. Spitzer just cannot stop himself from blabbing on and on about this just making me think he is a total loon. From I was “nervous” to statements about the employment history of other man involved – he just can’t refrain from a verbal diarrhea of clinical grandiose delusion, childish fears of cutlery, insane unfounded assumptions about the supposed “intention” of this verbose Bible thumper. No matter what Spitzer says – He was wrong, wrong and wrong. I don’t buy his concern about the mentally ill – even that is an assumption – how did/does he know this person is mentally ill at all? Spitzer thinks that if he schmoozes and act’s charming somehow all of us will see the light and agree with his handling of the situation. Not likely. This could have been a real mess. Mr. Ready, Fire, Aim strikes yet again. He needs to resign,

  • Roger Butow

    Oooops…now Spitzer’s self-serving defense comments are back up @ the OCR article….a lot of things just don’t add up here. Go to the OCR and see the strange exchanges between Spitzer and another attorney.

    He approached a deranged, potentially dangerous person, then ASKED the guy if he could (A) Search him, then (B) Handcuff him…….Anyone that docile doesn’t seem a threat to anyone.

    And Spitzer says it might have been because he was recognized as a Sup—Well then why did the guy let you get so close and then be passive?
    He would have taken advantage of the proximity.

    If he’s really street crazy nuts, he’d NEVER let someone corner and restrain him that easy. And I still want a street savvy LEO or shrink to tell us if this is really “Textbook” protocol and procedure.

    I’ve NEVER seen LEO (regarding our homeless here in Laguna) body search, hook someone up and THEN interview them…I thought they usually detain while they ascertain the stability and intent, the mindset of the person under the 51/50 Law?

  • Roger Butow

    VoOC readers should be made aware that Spitzer has apparently taken down his PR defense at the OC Register online article comments sections….I openly challenged him, typified this as playing “whack-a-mole,” attempting to try the case in the court of public opinion by Spitzer personally refuting/rebutting each comment when posted.

    So maybe HE finally “got it,” his PR flacks got him to stop the phony alligator tears, sniveling and playing up the emotional ploy, and just shut up already?

  • octaxpayer

    Well looks like Spitz is above the law. If we did this we would be arrested. Seems like all the BOS are above the law.

    • kburgoyne

      Well… you probably could have been arrested for having falsely arrested a private citizen. However in truth the cops most likely would have just sent you and the other person on your merry way as well if it seemed safe to do so, and neither one of your were insisting that they do something more.

  • OCservant_Leader

    Why wasn’t this bizarre story front page news back in April? This really concerns me. What else is being withheld from the public?

    Again – in the OC it’s about the cover up.

    Sup Spitzer knows about that silly law Free Speech and in America citizens can say and believe anything like Jesus riding dinosaurs or some Christians descend from aliens.

    I call BS on this story being withheld from the public to protect him and I hope this bible-toter gets a big chunk of change from the bottomless “protect OC fund”.

    We deserve to know how much this cost the taxpayers!!

  • John Claxton

    No one asked the bible toter if he knew Who Todd was or if he saw him from across the room and thought to himself – that man needs some serious counseling. I guess I won’t be attending anymore BOS meetings, for a would fear to much for my safety knowing Chairman Spitzer has a gun and that he is sooooo insensitive. Where are any witness statements? I find it strange that he would retrieve his gun and put it in his fanny pac.

    • kburgoyne

      Make the wrong comment at the BOS meeting and you could find yourself in Todd’s handcuffs!!!

  • Kathleen Tahilramani

    I have a question for the Voice of OC – any chance this table knife observant Bible talking fellow has achieved a settlement with the county on this matter? Seems like it was all hushed up, pretty fast and the Bible dude has yet to surface …Is the pistol packing Todd being protected?

    I hear that the OCSD deputies are LTA’s Off and totally appalled simultaneously

    In my opinion Spitzer should resign. He has shown a total lack of self control, judgment, self-restraint and he should get some professional help to assist him with understanding why he decided to pull his gun and cuff an innocent man.

    • John Claxton

      Oh I am sure every attorney in town is looking for this guy. Cha Ching. Going to cost us tax payers plenty no doubt.

      • Kathleen Tahilramani

        I think, if I am not mistaken this happened in April of this year…and it was just leaked now. So, plenty of time to duck and cover and make ah ha….arrangements…..

        • David Zenger

          Hush money would be paid out Spitzer’s campaign account.

          One has to wonder how Bible Dude can barely remember an incident in which he was handcuffed and frisked in a public place by an agitated stranger. I’m wondering why he “consented” or if he did.

          Yeah, something strange is going on. Real strange.

          And what sort of oddball keeps handcuffs available at all times?

          • Kathleen Tahilramani

            Good point, I did not think of that, yes Spitzer’s campaign account would be a resource. I agree it is really strange to have cuffs, “at the ready”. This entire episode is not adding up.
            Something is definitely wrong.

          • David Zenger

            I think he has had the gun and handcuffs at the ready in case the opportunity ever presented itself for him to play superhero cop. And I think that was exactly what motivated this delusional character when he went to get his gun.

            Think of the headline: SPITZER FOILS MASS MURDER ATTEMPT!!

          • Kathleen Tahilramani

            Ha! Bet he keeps a pair of brass knuckles for back up!

          • John Claxton

            I was on the phone with Todd once and he was pulling into a parking lot. I herd him say “I can’t do valet – I am in law enforcement and have firearms in my vehicle.” I remember thinking he is no longer in law enforcement, and he was just fired as Deputy DA. Maybe he aught to give up this BOS gig and run against sheriff Hutchins in the next election. The next time I get annoyed with someone I’m gonna call 911 and demand a code 2 be called. Then I’m gonna search them and hand cuff them and wait for back up. I have over ten years law enforcement under my belt too! I will report back with how much jail time I get!

  • OCservant_Leader

    Bizarre. Sup Todd Spitzer’s actions and thought process…gives insight into how police can shoot unarmed citizens in the back or justify beating unarmed mentally ill citizens to death.

    You felt uncomfortable Supervisor? Well now you know how the citizen/employees feel walking around the Civic Center you are responsible for.

    Mr Spitzer your future aspirations as a crime fighting DA is OVER.

    No wonder this story was hidden until your PR could get a response together. They can’t save you this time. Unbelievable.

  • David Zenger

    “It’s unclear why news of the incident didn’t surface earlier, and why it’s now coming to light.”

    Ask Sheriff Hutcens, Nick. Somebody in her crew must have leaked the wacko tale Todd wanted covered up. When has he ever NOT advertised his heroic doings?

    Gee, think the silence could have something to do with the timing of the Sheriff’s annual budget approval and/or the Stephen Connolly/OIR follies?

    And Nick, be sure to ask the Sheriff if she has revoked Yosemite Sam’s concealed carry permit, and if not, why not.

    • Kathleen Tahilramani

      I would bet your right on this & all I can say to who leaked the story is
      Thanks!!!!

  • Roger Butow

    “Real heroes don’t brag.”

  • David Zenger

    Wahoo! This is just scary. Somebody could have been shot by tin-plated lunatic.

    Incredibly proud? Ohhhhkay.

  • Roger Butow

    Textbook? Textbook mind reading? Textbook over-reaction? Textbook narcissistic response? Textbook nuts?

    Pretty Boy Spitzer has lost his mind. After police determined the man was in fact no threat to anyone, they should have arrested Spitzer for unlawfully detaining someone without probable cause, brandishing a weapon, etc.

    Todd, Svengali that he is, read the man’s mind, including the conclusion that the man’s glance at his table was really the first step in an attempt to grab Todd’s knife and butcher someone? Taking a gun in there it was Todd who was jeopardizing lives. He is not, to my knowledge, a trained law enforcement officer.

    He came to VERY hasty conclusions, could have provoked an unnecessary confrontation—if the man was deranged, all the more reason to call police and let them deal with it, reasonable force if need be, but that decision is theirs. They deal with these people constantly, read them well, they might even know this man.

    This is so gone rogue, Wild West as to be unbelievable. Then he tries to paint himself brave, intelligent and a hero. He acted stupidly and could have gotten others injured needlessly, all because of his hyper-inflated mucho macho ego.

    Doesn’t sound like the man was violent, he let Todd cuff him—of course having a gun on you will do that. What if the deranged man struggled, Todd had discharged his weapon, killed other patrons, would Todd be up on manslaughter charges or would that be justifiable homicide if he shot his “suspect?”

    It’s Spitzer who is a danger to society. Cheap, fast and out of control.

    • David Zenger

      “He is not, to my knowledge, a trained law enforcement officer.”

      He’s a reserve cop, or at least used to be. Which means he should have known that his actions were irresponsible and reckless. Except that in his universe he is a Hero: he saved the whole place from being butchered with a steak knife he claims someone looked at.

  • Kathleen Tahilramani

    Just on the news about 2 minutes ago. Supervisor Todd Spitzer was at a South County Wahoo’s eating lunch. A man walked up to him and began quoting bible verses. Todd asked the man to leave him alone, but the man kept talking and asking odd questions.

    Todd calls the OCSD and reports that he is being harassed Then as Todd tells this tale…. the man “looked at a knife on the table”. Todd left and went to his car got a gun and handcuffs. He returned to the restaurant and cuffedthe man and called the OCSD a second time where he reported his heroic deed and informed an exasperated dispatcher that he had made an arrest and reminded her who he was and requested a high priority response.

    The OCSD showed up and spoke with cuffed Bible dude and let him go. Looks like Toddy had a close call with a stationary kitchen knife. Todd termed the “arrest” he made “textbook” and would do it again in a minute. I never knew that this was what a gun and handcuffs were for – seems to me if he really felt his life was in danger when he left Wahoo’s he should have stayed out and waited for the Sheriff.

    And this folks is our Orange County “Leadership”. If we all hauled off and grabbed a gun and cuffs every time a person sad odd things to us, quoted the bible and looked at a kitchen knife – well build another jail.

    Todd – this is the epitome of stupid, attention suck behavior. You should be ashamed. You should have better judgment and common sense. Between last Thursdays walk off moment during the BOS meeting and today’s gonna grab my gun incident – I hope you never become the next DA.

    • David Zenger

      The complete lack of judgment is appalling. I guess we’ve found someone that makes even Tony Rackauckas look good.

      • Kathleen Tahilramani

        Gotta give Spitzer that dubious credit – it is really difficult to make T-Rack look good, but Spitzer just did – wow…..