Spitzer Wahoo Documents Released

JEFF ANTENORE/Voice of OC

Wahoo's restaurant in Foothill Ranch.

Orange County Supervisor Todd Spitzer repeatedly tried to issue a public statement suggesting he would have been justified using “deadly force” against a Christian preacher he handcuffed in 2015 for allegedly staring at Spitzer and a nearby table knife at a Wahoo’s Fish Taco restaurant, according to county emails released as the result of a Voice of OC public records lawsuit.

Superior Court Judge Walter Schwarm ordered county officials to make public the four pages of emails and Spitzer’s written account of the Good Friday 2015 Wahoo incident.

Spitzer’s staff emailed the records to Voice of OC Friday along with a statement in which the supervisor said “Regarding the events on April 3, 2015 at Wahoo’s Restaurant, I took appropriate caution as a situation developed that was threatening to both to me personally and other customers in the restaurant given that it involved an unstable individual and a sharp edged potential weapon.”

No one was injured, arrested or charged in the Foothill Ranch incident.

In the 2015 explanation for handcuffing the preacher, Spitzer questions the man’s mental health and said he relied on his 10 years of experience as a volunteer Los Angeles Police Department reserve officer during the 1990s.

“I have made or assisted in thousands of arrests,” said Spitzer, a lawyer, in the 2015 article titled “I WILL NEVER TURN MY BACK ON THE PUBLIC OR ITS SAFETY.” His volunteer service with the LAPD also overlapped his first term as supervisor from 1996 to 2000.

Spitzer, a likely candidate for District Attorney next year,  said in his Friday statement “government transparency and public safety are among my paramount concerns as an elected official.”

Voice of OC Publisher and Editor Norberto Santana Jr. responded: “I find it sadly ironic that Supervisor Spitzer lauds his commitment to government transparency in his statement yet fought viciously against the release of these records for more than a year.”

“In addition to threatening reporters and the California Shield Law, Spitzer has wasted countless hours for County Counsel, our newsroom, as well as taxpayer money to keep these records shielded.

“We are content that the public finally gets to see what he didn’t want anyone to know about,” Santana said.

“We’re also proud, as a news agency, to have stood up and successfully defended the public’s absolute right under our state constitution to monitor communications between elected officials and public bureaucrats.”

Voice of OC public records litigator, Kelly Aviles, sued for the records in March 2016, after the county refused to release them in response to a California Public Records Act request.

Spitzer and county lawyers fought the suit and tried for several months to depose Santana, under oath, about his reporting.

The judge ultimately rejected the county’s deposition attempts, saying the California Constitution provides an “absolute” privilege for journalists’ unpublished information, and the deposition is irrelevant to whether the county records are public.

After reviewing the records and hearing legal arguments from both sides, Schwarm issued a final decision June 5 declaring all but one paragraph of the Wahoo’s statement and emails public and ordering them released.

Under state law, when local government leaders fight the release of public records and lose in court, taxpayers pay the legal fees for both sides of the case.

(Click here to read Spitzer’s 2015 statement and emails ordered disclosed by the county.)

News of the Wahoo incident didn’t break until five months after it occurred, when it was reported by CBS Los Angeles on Sept. 3, 2015.

The next day, Sept. 4, according to the newly released documents, Spitzer sent the county’s then-chief spokesperson, Jean Pasco, a statement he wanted to send out about the incident.

He asked Pasco, a former Los Angeles Times reporter, for her suggested edits.

“I must recommend against making any other statements regarding this incident,” Pasco emailed back.

“It was a one-day novelty story at best,” she added. “A further statement will be seen by reporters as issuing a defensive manifesto and will just prolong a story that wasn’t particularly newsworthy to begin with.

“So,” Pasco wrote, “my edit would be not to send it.”

Spitzer replied “I will make this a public statement about mental health.”

But Pasco continued to press Spitzer to stop – and suggested he could open the county up to being sued.

“My worry is that you’ve already implied the guy was fired from his job and was acting as if he was mentally ill. Going further to tie the incident to his alleged mental illness may be perceived as slander,” Pasco wrote.

Spitzer ultimately did not issue the statement.

“She (Pasco) advised me that certain statements in the document could expose the County to legal liability because I specifically referenced the subject’s mental state,” Spitzer said in Friday’s statement.

“Based in part on her professional advice, I decided not to continue with the opinion piece,” Spitzer said.

The Wahoo’s incident began when Spitzer said Christian preacher Jeovany Castellano came up to the table where Spitzer was sitting by himself and began preaching about God, but didn’t stop when Spitzer said he wanted to be left alone.

As the situation intensified, a restaurant employee intervened and asked Castellano to sit at another table, which he did.

Spitzer said Castellano continued to stare at him and at a knife on the table.

“When [Castellano] tried to sit down next to me by sliding between two tables and began eyeing the serated [sic] steak knife I could not let him advance,” Spitzer wrote in his 2015 article.

“As a police officer, I have received hours of training on edged weapons. Police officers are trained not to allow anyone either armed with a knife or ready access to a knife to come within 10 feet,” he wrote. “Use of deadly force is justified under those circumstances.”

Spitzer called 9-1-1, went to his car, retrieved the gun he has a permit to carry and handcuffs, went back into the restaurant and cuffed Castellano.

When sheriff’s deputies responded, Spitzer told them he couldn’t remember what happened right before he detained the preacher.

Sheriff’s Deputy Danielle Stow, who responded to Spitzer’s 911 call, said the knife on the table was a butter knife.

Wahoo’s corporate trainer Sergie Osorio, who was on the scene, told Stow Spitzer decided to handcuff Castellano because he kept looking at him.

Castellano “was very solid, very calm, and at no point did I saw [sic] him being threatening or anything,” Osorio told the deputy.

Spitzer disputes the description of the knife, telling the Orange County Register in a September 2015 interview it was a table knife, and said his actions were necessary to protect himself and others.

“First and foremost, Orange County has a serious mental health population issue,” Spitzer wrote at the beginning of the 2015 statement.

Castellano, he wrote, “clearly is affected by mental and emotional issues.”

Spitzer detailed his law enforcement training and previous incidents where he used force.

“I have years of experience working the most difficult beat in America, the streets of Los Angeles, for an entire decade,” Spitzer wrote in the 2015 statement. “I have made or assisted in thousands of arrests. I graduated from one of the world’s finest academies. I was my class leader in the Academy and I was named Hollenbeck’s Reserve Officer of the Year and the Divisions’ Reserve Officer of the Year.”

“I wasn’t leaving Wahoos [sic] until I knew that the customers and the workers there were safe from Mr. Arellano,” Spitzer wrote, giving the wrong last name for Castellano. “I have special training. Most people do not.”

Sheriff Sandra Hutchens told the Register in 2015 “I don’t think he (Spitzer) did anything wrong. He perceived a threat. He acted upon that. … It was resolved; nobody got injured, and it was over.”

Spitzer added in his 2015 article he had no regrets about how he handled himself at Wahoo’s. “I would do it again.”

In his Friday statement Spitzer included a photo of a plaque he said was presented to him by Wahoo’s owner Wing Lam who, he said “personally thanked me.” The plaque expressed “appreciation for protecting his customers and employees.”

In his statement Friday, he affirmed his decision.

“If I encountered the same situation, I would take the exact same actions.”

  • Dan O’Donnell

    ANOTHER POLITICIAN ABOVE THE LAW!

  • Lyanna Lyns

    Todd Spitzer is a lying, two faced, double dealing, flaming sack of dog poo on the front porch of humanity. He is as dirty and corrupt as it gets, and I could not be more ecstatic that Wittle Toddy Whiner is about to get his, in full measure. Hope you saved your extra pair of cuffs, Toddy, you are going DOWN!

  • kburgoyne

    And to think, this whole incident would have quickly disappeared into the dustbin of history if Spitzer had simply been able to keep his fragile ego under control. Sheesh. Grow up, Spitzer. Now your ego has everyone laughing at you. Talk about counter-productive.

    We all know what a “table knife” at a place like Wahoo’s looks like. Your standard made-in-China round tipped knife which happens to have a little bit of a serrated edge. It’s not like you were eating at Morton’s Steak House.

    Places like Wahoo’s, Del Taco, etc, DELIBERATELY use minimally dangerous knives because they can get groups of immature boys coming in and horsing around like groups of immature boys will do. That’s not even taking into account how easily a minimum wage worker might cut him/herself handling the knives during bussing and cleaning. Wouldn’t surprise me if a restaurant’s insurance rates go up if they offer real steak knives.

    Your ego wants to make it sound like Wahoo’s was passing out combat knives for eating tacos. Wow, that’s one VISCIOUS taco you’ve got there, Spitzer. Takes a real man to wrestle one of THOSE beasts!

    • LFOldTimer

      The knife is a mute point since there’s no possible way that Spitzer would have known the kid was looking specifically at any table utensil, let alone a knife unless he can read minds. It was just a BS cover story after the fact. He probably learned that in police training school too.

      God help us if he’s elected as our next DA.

      • If he is, we have only ourselves to blame.

        • Lyanna Lyns

          He won’t be. Only now are FACTS coming to light that Todd Spitzer accepted donations from substandard nursing home operators suspected of being linked to organized crime who are being investigated for Medicaid fraud. He ignored and covered up their abuse, robbery, rape and deaths of dozens of patients, and when these cases were brought to him by employees of the county, he covered it all up. When he was called as a witness to the intimidation and obstruction of justice, he used his wife and personal law client to keep from testifying, and then engaged in an illegal and abusive action of retaliation and abuse against said employee, including going to the County’s retirement program for a special meeting to block her from getting her medical retirement, and changing the referral process for her class of job, only, so that she could not get hired anywhere. He also sent deputies to her home to threaten her, had her banned on social media and overall tried to cover up his illegal, immoral and criminal conduct. He is the scum of the earth, and I, for one, will be thrilled to see him in prison.

          • LFOldTimer

            Do you know Jackie by chance?

          • Lyanna Lyns

            Misspelled, but, yes, and she finally took your advice to file formal charges.

          • LFOldTimer

            Where did I advise her to file formal charges? You must have me mixed up with someone else.

            I only wanted to see some of the supporting documentation that she alluded to in her commentary.

          • Lyanna Lyns

            Well, now you will. Obstruction of justice. Witness tampering. Internal affairs has it. Misuse of authority. Toddy is going down.

          • LFOldTimer

            Internal affairs of what?

            Spitzer handcuffed a man who committed no crime in a public place and wasn’t even cited.

            What makes you think “internal affairs” (whoever that is) would suddenly turn on him?

            Call me skeptical.

          • Lyanna Lyns

            It’s an election year. Things get interesting when political bedmates are being chosen.

          • Lyanna Lyns

            He sent deputies into another juristiction to intimidate a witness to his wrongdoing. On the taxpayer dime. No, they are not happy about the potential liability in that…would you be?

          • LFOldTimer

            Was that reported in the media or is it only a personal anecdote?

            Where can I read about it?

            What is your proof source?

          • Lyanna Lyns

            It was reported to the sheriff, the DA and VoC. Woman it happened to has witnesses and the business cards of the deputies.

    • I am not sure about Wahoo’s I have never eaten there. But I seem to recall all Del Tacos, Taco Hells, McDonalds etc use plastic utensils.

  • Daniel Lamb

    To say that Supervisor Spizer is morally unfit for public office is an understatement. He has an obvious tendency to frame mental illness as a threat to public safety desite the fact that it touches virtually every life in the county in a manner that is not particularly threatening. That is to say, not only is he immoral from exploiting mental illness for his own purposes, he is doing something that is politically absurd. He is not the only one, we are all going to look back in a few years (perhaps very few indeed) and be disgusted with the way many discussed mental illness.

    It is truly astonishing how out of touch the political class is with general mores. It is also astonishing how those discrepancies always reveal themselves with time.

    Supervisor Spitzer should resign from office.

  • Jack Milliken

    Toad Spitzer, Junior G-man

    • Lyanna Lyns

      Very junior…very Geeeee

  • Ed Romero

    “I WILL NEVER TURN MY BACK”. Someone was TURNING THE BACK, when that Asst. Chief Probation Officer was Smoking so much Marijuana while on duty at the O C Probation Department that sometimes our hallways looked a FOGGY DAY IN FRESNO. As if that was not bad enough the Chief Probation Officer who resided in the City of Anaheim, also was Smoking so much Marijuana that he neighbors were call our Probation Department Records Unit complaining about all the Marijuana fumes floating over to their houses. I personally saw Drug Dealing in the Probation Department, that Asst. Chief Probation Officer had her very own Gang of Drug Dealers making deliveries right into her Office while on duty, one of them Arrested 5 times for Marijuana for Sale, another one arrested 5 times for Drunk Driving, all they had to do was make a Drug Delivery in a Brown Paper Lunch Bag and all was FORGIVEN. Like I said SOMEONE in County Government was not doing their job.

  • There was a mentally ill person in that encounter. But, it wasn’t the preacher.

    • Lyanna Lyns

      You, sir, are the winner of the shiny Internet of Truth award for the week. *hands large trophy* Speech!

  • Paul Lucas

    So it would seem the average person, as well as the deputies who responded believe ha had over reacted. But we do get a glimpse into the cavalier way in which he can refer to his training as an LAPD reserve officer the attitude that police officers have towards their own accountability in instances of use of force.

    • Paul Lucas

      I mean after what we saw with the handling of the Kelly Thomas murder by police from TR, this claim that he would have been justified in using deadly force is very disturbing if he is running for DA

  • Rose Tingle

    Dear Supervisor Spitzer, If as you state, “government transparency and public safety are among my paramount concerns as an elected official” then why have you and your colleagues been denying us, the stakeholders, oversight of the 76 year old county animal shelter which we have been requesting for over a year? Obviously, the contract city assistant city managers of the contract cities knew little or cared little about animal welfare or the conditions of the county animal shelter, hence 5 Orange County Grand Jury Reports. Our intention is collaboration as we move forward with the new shelter.

  • Ltpar

    For an allegedly trained Reserve Officer, Spitzer sure made some stupid moves here. He deserved to be censored and sued for his actions in this case.

    • Lyanna Lyns

      If Toddy is an allegedly trained officer, why does he use off duty sheriff deputies as his personal enforcement squad to go into other counties to threaten and intimidate witnesses to his criminal activities? Did he learn something from his ridiculous use of force? Or is he really the yellow belly coward that we have always suspected. Enquiring minds want to know.

  • verifiedsane

    Just unbelievable, and this twisted and corrupt political animal wants to be DA…..It would be completely laughable, if this wasn’t OC; where the string pulling power brokers of the corrupt oligarchy runs the big top political circus…not the people…

  • Allan Bartlett

    It’s ironic that Spitzer seems to me to be the one with mental issues, not bible boy.

  • LFOldTimer

    There must be more to the story that we’re not seeing. Why would the county fight to keep those benign documents secret? Or did the county, in fact, turn over all the records in their possession? What documents aren’t we seeing here? Is this a sequel from OCSD’s playbook?

    And I guess Spitzer’s cop training anointed him w/ the special powers to read minds and diagnose mental illness. Maybe I missed something. Did the proselytizer ever reach for a knife on Spitzer’s table? Did he make any furtive threatening physical movements to indicate a potential for violence? Did he make any threatening statements? Because someone proselytizes in public that makes him mentally ill? That’s news to me. Where does it state in the DSM-5 that promoting Jesus or Christianity in public qualifies as mental illness? Did the proselytizer refuse any demands from the restaurant manager to exit the restaurant? If not, how much of a threat could the proselytizer have been? Or was he only a threat in Spitzer’s mind? And Spitzer’s reserve police training apparently conflicted with the training of the responding police officer who determined that the proselytizer broke no laws and seemed to be mentally fit enough to advise him that he was free to go.

    Sorry. Spitzer’s story has more holes than swiss cheese.

    I also find it laughable that Spitzer, a licensed attorney, would seek and take legal advice from a public relations person and former reporter. What formal legal training and credentials does Ms. Pasco have?

    If Spitzer becomes the next DA will he email Ms. Pasco and ask for her legal opinions on prosecutorial actions too?

    What a joke.

  • Jessica Davis

    Why do people constantly bash law enforcement? These men and women have to make instantaneous, life or death, highly pressurized decisions! If Spitzer had sat back and let a potentially dangerous situation get out of hand he would have been under fire!

    • David Zenger

      Ms. Davis, if you would, please explain what part of that situation was potentially dangerous (other than the part when Spitzer took a loaded gun into a restaurant).

      The incident was only dangerous when an unbalanced person escalated it from nothing into something.

      P.S. Spitzer is not “law enforcement.” When the professionals showed up they let the poor guy go. Watch the video. Bible Boy was about as dangerous as Fred Rogers.

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fred_Rogers

    • Ltpar

      Please do not confuse Spitzer with being a Law Enforcement Officer. Based on his poor judgement in this case, I don’t know how he survived 10 years with Los Angeles P.D. Secondly, as a civilian now, what the hell is he doing carrying around a pair of handcuffs? Being a muckety muck, I am guessing the Sheriff issued him a CCW permit. Spitzer’s actions in this incident would merit the Sheriff pulling that permit. Oh sorry, I forgot, Sheriff Hutchens is a political animal too.

      • LFOldTimer

        Why do you think Spitzer trash talked T-Rack per the illegal jail informant scandal and didn’t say diddly squat about Queen Hutchens who actually runs the jail?

        • verifiedsane

          Orange County Sheriff Sandra Hutchens testifies that jailhouse informant system does not exist – http://www.ocregister.com/2… Spitzer pal, lying Sandra ups the ante with the ruling gang of government thugs…..

          • LFOldTimer

            We have sworn testimony from both former OCSD Lieutenant Irons and Deputy Larson that ranking OCSD officials knew about the jail informant program and were the final decision makers. Irons said that a jail captain made most of the decisions. There was an apparent memo distributed by ranking OCSD jail management that commended the work of those in the Special Handling Unit who worked with the informants. lol.

            PD Sanders even showed Hutchens DURING HER SWORN TESTIMONY multiple documents which PROVED that jail supervisors knew about the informant program. LOL!

            It’s repugnant that a Sheriff would throw her lowest ranking deputies under the bus when it’s obvious what went on here. Those who supervised those deputies and were the decision makers should be investigated. But Hutchens protects them as she lets her grunt deputies twist in the wind. Disgusting.

            If a military officer tried that BS he or she would get court martialed under the Uniform Code of Military Justice faster than a rattlesnake bite.

            In any para-military training school the LEADERS always take responsibility for the acts of his or her subordinates on the job. Here the so-called OCSD leaders are hanging their subordinates out to dry. It makes me want to vomit.

            Hutchens is a low-life who should have NEVER been appointed to the job after Carona was indicted.

            I blame the Board of Supervisors for this mess.

        • Lyanna Lyns

          Because he uses her sheriffs as his personal witness tampering and junior Guido squad to intimidate women and children in their homes???

  • Roger Gill

    Spitzer did the right thing.

    • mutheta

      Yes, he did proving once again he is unfit to serve the citizens of OC.

    • Lyanna Lyns

      On what planet?????

  • RyanCantor

    “I have made or assisted in thousands of arrests . . .”

    Thousands? Really?

    All without ever issuing a press release. Odd that this arrest required one. Something does not add up.

    • David Zenger

      The part I like is the bald fact that Spitzer did nothing to immediately exploit this “heroic” action (his usual M.O.), and only defended his activities AFTER the embarrassing story was leaked.

      Even he knew his Good Friday heroics had misfired badly.

      • RyanCantor

        The whole thing is just weird.

        Bragging that he didn’t break some guy’s legs with a club? Seriously?

        • David Zenger

          I guess that was supposed to demonstrate compassion and empathy? No wonder Pasco thought it best to let the whole thing go.

          Speaking of Pasco, who else could have leaked the existence of these e-mails?

          • RyanCantor

            I dunno, but his idea to have Spitzer buy this guy lunch at Wahoo’s is brilliant.

    • Ltpar

      As a Reserve Officer, I would doubt the truth of such a statement.

    • Paul Lucas

      Maybe they were all at DUI Checkpoints.

    • Lyanna Lyns

      In the glory hall of Yoyo Spitzer’s delusional brain, maybe. Todd’s whole self persona is as flimsy as a plotline on Once Upon a Time.

  • Bob Brock

    There is less here about the statement than about how that statement was obtained. He also stopped a carjacking in Orange and stopped a shoplifter in Sacramento. Sure, the “safe” route – both personally and politically – would’ve been to do nothing, but that’s never been Spitzer’s MO. He takes risks to protect the public. Seems like the definition of public service.

    • David Zenger

      Mr. Brock, does taking a loaded gun into a restaurant to handle what was at worst a personal annoyance “protect the public?”

      Also, Wahoo’s doesn’t have streak knives. They have table knives that wouldn’t even break your skin.

      • Bob Brock

        They have serrated metal knives that could, in fact, break skin. Put on some clothes and leave your house and you could see for yourself.

        • David Zenger

          On the subject of knives, why did your boy claim it was a steak knife? That was a self-serving lie, wasn’t it, Bob?

        • LFOldTimer

          How did Spitzer know that the proselytizer was staring at a specific table utensil? Is he really that good? Did his former police training give him supernatural powers to ascertain what object a person is focusing on at any given point in time? Can Spitzer read minds? Maybe the kid was hungry and was looking at his fish taco. Did that ever occur to you, Bob?

          • Did his former police training give him supernatural powers to ascertain what object a person is focusing on at any given point in time? The same training I took myself many years ago taught candidates how to describe in court how to react to such instances. listen to officers testimony in court cases sometime, they are trained to speak in canned phrases.

      • Lyanna Lyns

        *passes David popcorn* Watching Spitzieboy’s fanboys worship their hero is like attending a Doctor Who fan convention. It’s highly entertaining, but a bit surreal.

    • Lyanna Lyns

      Unless, of course, they are patients in nursing homes, or mentally ill, or on life support, or are employees of the County, or somehow unable to funnel dirty money from organized crime into his war chest. Then he won’t lift a handcuff. Toddy reminds me of Trumpard at his worst, with his delusions of grandeur.

  • David Zenger

    “Spitzer questions the man’s mental health”

    Highly ironic. And a lawyer taking legal advice from a reporter? That’s just hilarious.

    The Boys Town contract issue remains to be disclosed.