Security Video Shows Reactions to Courthouse Beating

Newly released security footage shows the reaction of alarmed observers who saw last week’s courthouse beating, but Orange County Superior Court officials say their cameras did not capture the beating itself.

The March 9 altercation between criminal defense attorney James Crawford and Dillon Alley, an investigator with the Orange County District Attorney’s office, left Crawford battered and bloody and ignited a furor in the county’s legal community.

In the 2-minute video, released by court officials Friday morning in response to a Voice of OC records request, a woman observing the scene rushes into a room to alert sheriff’s deputies, followed by a man in a suit who does the same.

At least 10 officers and deputies respond to the scene on the 10th floor of the Central Justice Center, with one later appearing to bring over paper towels to wipe up blood.

(Click the video above or this link to watch the video.)

But the cameras did not capture the actual physical confrontation itself, according to Gwen Vieau, the court’s chief spokeswoman.

(Update – March 19 at 2:05 p.m.: Another angle of the hallway was recorded in an additional security video obtained by the Orange County Register. It briefly shows what appears to be people pulling Alley away from an off-camera Crawford, but does not depict the beating itself.)

The lack of video evidence, at least from security cameras, could make it more difficult to file charges in the case, given that there are now conflicting witness statements about what happened and who struck first.

Crawford’s side of the story is that Alley started the fight by calling Crawford “sleazy” and a “douchebag,” according to Crawford’s attorney, Jerry Steering.

Crawford said “fuck you” in response and began to walk away, but then the investigator threw a binder clip at the back of Crawford’s head, according to Steering. Crawford threw it back, and that’s when the investigator pounced, Steering said.

Alley slammed Crawford’s head into a bench, placed him in a headlock and “pounded the shit out of him,” according to Steering.

Photos provided by Steering show Crawford with a swollen, purple bruise around his left eye, a bloody nose, and a blood-stained shirt.

Crawford’s account was “largely” backed up by two witnesses who were at the courthouse “on unrelated business,” according to KTLA-TV reporter Chip Yost, who said he spoke with the witnesses.

The first alternative narrative publicly emerged Thursday, over a week after the incident, when the DA’s office stated in a court filing that their investigator was only acting in self-defense.

“Crawford was no victim,” wrote Senior Deputy District Attorney Matt Lockhart, according to the OC Register. “Investigator Alley responded in self-defense to Crawford’s hitting him in the face.”

The DA’s office claims Crawford hit Alley first, hitting him in the face with his hand. That led to a fist fight, with Crawford on the floor, hitting Alley in the torso as the DA investigator hit Crawford in the face.

The union for DA investigators, sheriff’s deputies, and sheriff’s investigators also disputes Crawford’s claims.

“Defense attorney Crawford and his lawyer Jerry Steering have spent the last week doing their best to manipulate the media, the public and the criminal defense bar into publicly prosecuting a district attorney investigator based on wildly inaccurate facts,” said Tom Dominquez, president of the Association of Orange County Deputy Sheriffs, in a statement Thursday.

The case was investigated by the Orange County Sheriff’s Department, and is now in the hands of California Attorney General Kamala Harris’ office, which is deciding whether to file charges.

Meanwhile, an online petition demanding Alley’s arrest and prosecution, which was created by a local defense attorney, has gained over 1,500 online signatures.

The footage released Friday shows one end of the hallway where the beating took place, but does not show Alley or Crawford.

The camera has a clear view of the main elevator waiting area, meaning it would have captured Alley and Crawford on video if either used the elevators to leave the 10th floor.

But the footage cuts off only a couple minutes after the beating, with deputies still observing the scene, and no sign of either Alley nor Crawford.

A Voice of OC reporter requested the rest of the footage Friday morning, but court officials hadn’t released it as of Friday evening.

Nick Gerda covers county government for Voice of OC. He can be reached at

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  • OCservant_Leader

    Mandatory Arrest is a law that was passed to “force” law enforcement to arrest the offender and not try to be judge and jury and figure out who started it.

    If there are injuries- then there was an assault. Arrest is mandatory. The LE must arrest the “primary aggressor” this is determined by who sustained the injuries.

    The Defense Attorney sustained injuries consistent with an assault. Who is most like
    Likely the perpetrator of said assault gets arrested and the system grinds on.

    If both participants are equally injured – then they BOTH get arrested.

    This is the law.

    Where are the photos of the DA Investigators injuries? Besides his broken hand from inflicting the blows?

    The law AGAIN is not being followed here.

    I don’t care if the attorney called out the Investigator’s Mama! There is no justification for violence. Even throwing a paper clip – does not justify violence.

    The OC has circled the wagons again.

    This Investigator – should be fired because he is not fit for the job.

    The attorney will walk away with a NICE FAT CHECK thanks to the taxpayers.

    Why isn’t anyone one of the attorneys on the BOS demanding the violent offender be fired NOW?

    • LFOldTimer

      Laws? ha.

      Laws are only made for the little people to follow.

      Like you said, in the end the victim will be the OC taxpayer who pays the settlement without access to the facts that led to the settlement.

      Wash, rinse, sanitize, repeat.

      • OCservant_Leader

        The OCSD did not follow the LAW. Right in a COURT HOUSE with pictures of the crime victim. I can make a valid citizen’s arrest based on the evidence in this story.

        There needs to an arrest for this assault, irregardless if the County ends up paying off this victim. This is a CRIME! This is OUR justice system! This is how it works.

        Why was someone so unstable employed by the DA? Why are they all protecting him now?

        Now the DA has to file charges against their own investigator AND the deputies for “failure to arrest”. The OCSD Union will double down on this guy and further lose public trust.

        Where is the Sheriff, the DA and the Board of Supervisors?

        • Debby Bodkin

          In my opinion, DA Rackauckas, OC Sheriff Hutchens and the OC Board of Supervisors are only concerned with the filing of CRIMINAL charges when they are guarantee a piece of any civil judgment and or settlement.

          Example 1: John Derek Chamberlain, delayed investigation, eventual OC Grand Jury report, no charges against OC Sheriff officials but settlement paid to Chamberlain’s father…. plenty of time for negotiation to ensure OC Sheriff and OC District and OC Board of Supervisors come out looking like heroes.

          Example 2: Kelly Thomas, delayed criminal charges, despite video showing Fullerton PD officers beating Thomas to death. Rackauckas is lead trial attorney after 30 years out of the courtroom leading to acquittal of Fullerton PD officers. $1 million to Kelly Thomas’ mother, later $4.5 million to Kelly Thomas’ father….. plenty of time for negotiation to ensure OC Sheriff and OC District and OC Board of Supervisors look like they did everything possible to protect the public.

          Example 3: James Crawford/Dillon Alley Incident on March 9. Delayed investigation, delayed criminal charges, video of OC Sheriff officials picking their noses and refusing to make an arrest on the spot, DA’s opposition papers for a unrelated criminal case that was ongoing during assault show DA is ABOVE THE LAW.

          Tragically, AG Kamala Harris is too busy running for the U.S. Senate…. still investigating the DA’s office re snitch scandals. Fool me once is chance, fool me twice is coincidence, and try to fool me again only reveals a criminal enterprise, with multiple co-conspirators.

        • LFOldTimer

          “Where is the Sheriff, the DA and the Board of Supervisors?”

          Circling the wagons for their own, applying more double standards and promoting inequality under the law.

          Did you really expect otherwise?

          More 3rd world behavior. Same ‘ol same ‘ol.

    • Debby Bodkin

      “Why isn’t any one of the attorneys on the BOS demanding the violent offender be fired NOW?”, is the number one question. Spitzer and Nelson never give up an opportunity to issue a self serving press release that attempts to inform the public they care at all about the public’s safety.

      My guess would be that because the OC Board of Supervisors just APPROVED another advisor, aka “insurance policy” for Sheriff Hutchens, at the Tuesday meeting, before the weekend release of the video obtained by Voice of OC of 10 plus OC Sheriff officials standing around with fingers in their noses, the OC Board of Supervisors are now a part of the conspiracy to intimidate and silence the information released to the public.

      As a non-attorney, non-politically connected individual, I remain disgusted and shocked when observing OC Hutchens and DA Rackauckas’ silence. Mr. Rackauckas and Ms. Hutchens: The public is catching on to your RICO PATTERNS and self-serving political business practices that place children, adults and employees at serious risk. Please resign immediately!

  • LFOldTimer

    What about the case witnesses that Crawford was talking to at the time of the incident? They had front row seats. What do they say? And I thought the DA’s office was going to stay out of it. Afterall this is a PENDING INVESTIGATION. Isn’t the typical playbook line “We can’t comment on an ongoing investigation”? Now suddenly the DA’s office runs its mouth and blames Crawford?? ha. If Crawford smacked the investigator on the face let’s see evidence of an injury. Oh wait. There’s no indication that the investigator suffered an injury. Usually if someone gets smacked on the face it leaves at least a bruise. Didn’t take ’em long to circle the wagons, did it?

    • Paul Lucas

      Another lawyer from the alternative public defenders office was also right behind the two when it happened.

      • Debby Bodkin

        Most like, any public defender, defense attorney or member of the public who in the future witnesses public corruption crimes committed by officers of the court, DA prosecutors, investigators, sheriff officials, etc., they too will be silenced and intimidated. I speak from personal experience and CAUTION anyone not to make the same mistakes I and my family made…. DO NOT TRUST ORANGE COUNTY LAW ENFORCEMENT!! Hire an attorney or ask the court to appoint an attorney to protect you, even if you are just subpoenaed to testify as a witness in a criminal or civil trial.
        If DA Rackauckas needs your testimony for any reason, he and his prosecutors will pretend to be on your side, just like they did when they prepared my stepson to testify at the felony gun possession trial of R. J. Hemenway, the principal’s son at Santa Margarita Catholic High School in early 2002. Then, when a witness and parent cooperates, after when all other eye witnesses REFUSE to testify based on fear of losing their job as teachers/coaches in the Catholic Diocese of Orange, .

    • Debby Bodkin

      Based on personal experience, even though the DA Rackauckas and his Chief of Staff Susan Kang Schroeder publicly stated they were going to stay out of it and turn it over to the California Atty General, nothing is further from the truth! IMO, DA Rackauckas, OC Sheriff Hutchens and the OC Board of Supervisors have been working 24/7 to work out an out-of-court settlement, quid pro quo deal, that the public will NEVER be privy to.

      Does anyone think it is strange that OC Board of Supervisor Todd Spitzer and/or any of the other Supervisors have not issued a public statement about the Crawford/Alley incident? But, Spitzer had the time to issue a press release attempting to reduce Carlos Bustamante’ public pension payments, an arrest that occurred back in 2012, with DA charges that had been reduced MULTIPLE by OC judicial officers. Why now Mr. Spitzer?

      To OC Board of Supervisors: An Orange County defense attorney was assaulted by a District Attorney Investigator in a U.S. courthouse, with no video available, just 10 OC Sheriff officials standing around looking like idiots! In my opinion, this was done to chill the public’s participation in reporting public corruption crimes to the FBI and the USDOJ, and/or participating in any type of Orange County law enforcement investigation and/or criminal/civil proceeding. Are you going to protect the individuals that voted you into public office or are you going to stand around like idiots, similar to the OC Sheriff officials in the video?

    • Bob Stevens

      The “statement” from the DA’s office is from a motion in response to a public defenders motion to have his case dismissed. The DA’s office hasn’t said a word. The DA put out a press release about it yesterday.

      • LFOldTimer

        Bob, maybe you can explain this to me. A DA Investigator is a sworn police officer with all the designated authority and protections that goes with that title. If someone initiated a fight by striking a DA Investigator in the face wouldn’t the assailant get taken into custody immediately and be charged with assault on a police officer? Or could anyone walk into the courthouse, initiate a fight with a DA Investigator by striking him in the face and walk free? You seem to be a smart guy. Please elaborate.

        • Bob Stevens

          I doubt that’s going to happen. If someone, for no reason, just walked up to a police officer and punched him then yes that person would go to jail. This situation isn’t like that from what you and I have read. There are witnesses from both sides who were there and there are a lot of undertones here apparently. Again, no one including you and I, know what happened. What we know for the most part is one side of the story.

          • LFOldTimer

            Thanks for your response, Bob. But I’m still confused. If person initiated a physical fight by smacking a police officer or District Attorney Investigator in the face – it really doesn’t matter what the witnesses saw that would be an unquestionable immediate arrestable offense. When a crime is committed in the presence of a cop – the cop doesn’t survey the witnesses prior deciding whether to arrest the culprit. No cop doing his job would let anyone take the first punch and smack him in the face without hooking him up. Sure, I wasn’t there. I don’t know exactly what happened. But I do have common sense, sir. And my common sense says that police officers don’t let others initiate a fight and take the first punch without taking that person into custody. So IMO your response is full of holes.

          • Bob Stevens

            If it were only a cop (DA Inv) and the other person I would agree. Though that isn’t what happened here. There were witnesses with conflicting versions of what happened. If that’s the case, if one of them got arrested then I would think both would be arrested. Same kinda situation where cops are called out to a husband wife altercation. No witnessess or ones who tell conflicting events, no one gets arrested.

          • LFOldTimer

            I guess you didn’t read or completely comprehend my comment. If a violent crime is committed upon a police officer in public he doesn’t need to survey the crowd of witnesses first to determine whether, in their judgment, he has the PC to arrest the assailant. He simply makes the arrest. There are nearly always conflicts in witness accounts after the fact. But police officers are generously paid to make decisions based upon their own trained observations and legal authority. A police officer being drawn into a fight by being struck (assaulted) in the face is obviously an immediate arrestable offense. The fact that the attorney was not arrested casts grave suspicion on the DA’s office subsequent “self-defense” claim. So sorry, Bob. IMO your latest comment remains full of holes. It contradicts common sense and the manner in which police officers are trained to act.

          • Bob Stevens

            If it was a cop in the normal course of business I’d agree but this is not that. The jurisdiction of the courthouse falls under the OCSD. They investigate it and try to figure out what happened. If it’s he said/ he said with multiple witnessess they are justified in not arresting anyone. They didn’t see what happened, so based off conflicting statements they chose not to arrest anyone. This is not a situation where a cop is attacked while he’s out giving a traffic ticket and that cop makes the arrest. Once both people are suspects in a possible crime and there are conflicting stories, no one is going to be arrested. There would be no probable cause to arrest either one. No PC to arrest Crawford and none to arrest the investigator. Let the DOJ do their investigation and we will both be more clear as to what happened.

          • LFOldTimer

            Again Bob, you’ve completely avoided my point. I’ll say it one more time and hope it sticks. If a person committed a crime of assault on a peace officer (or DA Investigator or Probation Officer or Parole Officer or Federal Agent) whether it’s in a courthouse or on the boulevard by initiating a fight by physically striking that peace officer in the face, it would be that peace officers job to execute an immediate arrest on that person. The peace officer wouldn’t need someone else to investigate the crime in which he was a victim and a percipient witness and determine whether there was enough PC to charge the suspect based on witness accounts. The PC is clearly already there. How would the cop know that there were conflicting witness statements after being assaulted? Did he sit down with all witnesses and interview them? Common sense says that’s absurd. IMO the fact that Crawford was not arrested makes the DA’s claim of self-defense questionable. Okay, that’s my final opinion. I still think yours is full of holes. Enjoy the rest of your weekend.

          • David Zenger

            Aw, the guy’s just obfuscating. It’s the police MO: We can’t know; you weren’t there; let the investigation run its course, justice for everyone, yadda, yadda.

            If Crawford started that “fight” he’d have been in the Central Jail before you could say “Kelly Thomas.”

          • LFOldTimer

            When’s the last time a cop worried about whether the witnesses would approve of an arrest when the cop was a victim of a crime?

            That one rivals the dog ate my homework.

          • Debby Bodkin

            It is important to note, as I consider myself someone who has experienced first hand the corruption of the OC Sheriff and OC District Attorney in Orange County, California, anyone who did not have fear about testifying against one of OC’s law enforcement agencies would be nuts. What does the public and the FBI not understand–CORRUPTION CORRUPTION CORRUPTION.

            For the past 10 years, as the public record shows, careers & reputations have been destroyed when anyone challenges the OC Sheriff, OC District Attorney or one of the OC Board of Supervisors and now, more than ever, and the backroom retaliation and intimidation by politically connected attorneys represented the three entities are impossible to oppose in an OC court of law.

            It is my hope that any private citizen witnessing wrongdoing that was committed between Crawford and Alley will request the County of Orange pay for an attorney to represent him/her, with guaranteed protections for the witness and family. Trust me, DO NOT TRUST the OC District Attorney, the OC Sheriff, the OC Board of Supervisors and/or the defense attorneys that the County of Orange hires for defense representation.

      • David Zenger

        So Bob, you’re saying the language in the motion doesn’t mean anything?

        If so, it is a “statement.” If not, it is just more of the same self-serving horse crap Rackauckas and his crew have been peddling for almost 20 years.

        • Bob Stevens

          It was in response to a legal motion that was filed. It was reactive, not proactive. I’m not saying it doesn’t mean anything, just pointing it out that it wasn’t out out there for no reason.

          • David Zenger

            So does the language of the legal motion not reflect the actual position of the DA in this matter? If not, we have a real problem.
            As to the “response” itself, the DDA should be ashamed. Whether Crawford started the fight and whether the witnesses were familiar with violence are immaterial and irrelevant issues. They just watched one of their lawyers getting the crap beat out of him by an agent of the DA.

  • OCservant_Leader

    Get the video! Where’s the evidence?

    If the DA has deliberately, destroyed evidence in this case – omg.

    I will wait for the evidence to surface…thank you VOC!

  • Paul Lucas

    Todd Spitzer told me there was no video footage and that there are no cameras in the court hallways. I already knew that was a lie as there are cameras everywhere in there and so there had to be some footage. and now they want us to believe that only the cameras aimed at the elevators are the only ones there?

    • Debby Bodkin

      IMO, someone very powerful and politically connected wanted to kill and/or silence Crawford and every other individual who dares expose the OC District Attorney, OC Sheriff and OC Board of Supervisors’ corrupt business and employment practices. The FBI needs to investigate who is on the take of these large government lawsuit judgments and settlements…. Chamberlain was $600,000 plus, Kelly Thomas was $4.5 million, civil rights lawsuits total how much? This lawsuit will be in the millions plus add up all the DEFENSE attorneys’ fees the County of Orange, OC Sheriff, OC Board of Supervisors, Catholic Diocese of Orange, and Transportation Corridor paid out during the past 10 years, not to mention the public corruption crimes committed in Orange County courts of law, without consequences.

      WOW, this is a big criminal RICO enterprise in the affluent, well-educated, allegedly religious and Republican dominated Orange County, California. SHAME ON all of the RICO participants, and you know who you are. May you all someday, spend time in a federal prison. Based on written documentation I have submitted to the USDOJ and FBI to date, and I am only ONE person, there should be enough evidence during the past 10 years to make former Sheriff Mike Carona’s federal prosecution look like a traffic infraction.

      I pray daily that Carona sings like a canary soon….. he was abandoned by attorneys, his political advisor and DA Rackauckas, who could have at any time during Carona’s tenure, given Carona legal advice and taken corrective action. To anyone who has written proof of public corruption, please send to FBI in Los Angeles and don’t give up–based on my personal experience and opinion, there is some type of leak in the FBI Orange County office and we all have a better chance sending public corruption reports to Los Angeles or Washington D.C.

  • LFOldTimer

    There are security cameras all over that courthouse. There must have been one that caught the fight. Could an investigative reporter check it out? If there was a camera positioned in the fight area figure the odds that it had technical difficulties. 1 to 1? I would believe the witnesses who were in the courthouse on unrelated business. Somebody without a dog in the race. I have a feeling this one will get swept under the carpet just like Spitzer’s caper at Wahoo.

    • Debby Bodkin

      This is another John Derek Chamberlain intentional and corrupt investigation… No arrest of Alley means lost video, evidence and BS!

      • LFOldTimer

        They should put all the witnesses on lie boxes to see who’s telling the truth.

        • Debby Bodkin

          It is embarrassing to watch the officers stand around…. they should all be terminated.

        • David Zenger

          “I’ve never seen so many obese cops before in my life…”
          I noticed the same thing and sincerely hoped it was just the angle of the camera.
          I believe that out of shape cops are one of the main causes of the “shoot first” mentality.