Prosecutors clear deputy of criminal liability in fatal shooting of Marine

SANTA ANA – An Orange County sheriff’s deputy was justified in fatally shooting a 31-year-old Marine sergeant who crashed an SUV through a parking-lot gate at San Clemente High School with his two daughters in the back seat, District Attorney Tony Rackauckas said today.

Announcing the results of a lengthy investigation into the shooting, Rackauckas said Deputy Darren Sandberg acted properly when he opened fire on Sgt. Manuel Levi Loggins Jr. on Feb. 7.

The Camp Pendleton-based Marine had a ”stern” look, appeared angry and was speeding before he crashed a GMC Yukon through the gate, his 14-year-old daughter told investigators. Loggins drove through a red light on the way to the school, his 9-year-old daughter told investigators.

Loggins, who had been muttering to himself, walked toward the school’s athletic field, leaving the girls in the car and not inquiring as to their welfare, Deputy District Attorney Susan Price said.

Sandberg, a training officer who recently had returned to patrol duties, was in his vehicle in the school’s parking lot filling out a log near the end of his shift.

The deputy saw the SUV speeding and heard tires screeching and the collision, so he drove over to investigate. Sandberg saw part of a metal gate lodged under the vehicle.

Sandberg saw Loggins get out of the vehicle and he ordered him to stop, prosecutors said, citing video from the patrol car. Loggins was holding a Bible in his hand, but Sandberg told investigators that although he could see the object in his hand he couldn’t tell what it was, Price said.

Loggins ignored the deputy’s commands to stop as he walked toward the athletic field, where for the past month he would bring some or all of his family for early morning workouts and Bible study, Price said.

Sandberg briefly talked to the daughters and called for backup for a possible hit-and-run collision and child endangerment, Price said.

The deputies who arrived tried to find Loggins in the dark, Price said.

At 4:46 a.m., one of the deputies spotted him and reported Loggins was returning to the vehicle, Price said.

Loggins refused commands from Sandberg to stop, Price and Deputy District Attorney Dan Wagner said. The dashboard video camera recorded Loggins muttering something like, ”I’ve got somewhere to go,” and ”Give me my kids back,” as he walked toward the vehicle, the prosecutors said.

According to the prosecutors, as Loggins was getting into the vehicle, Sandberg shouted, ”Get your hands up! Don’t you get in that car or I’ll shoot you!”

Loggins got into the vehicle, closed the door and had the windows up at 4:46 a.m. as Sandberg pointed the weapon at him, the prosecutors said. Sgt. Todd Carpenter, who was also at the scene, pointed a weapon at Loggins, the prosecutors said.

Sandberg, who was about parallel to the daughters, shot Loggins three times from behind, aiming the weapon toward the engine block to avoid a ricochet that could hurt the children, Wagner said.

Before he opened fire, Sandberg asked Carpenter if a Taser was available, but Sandberg wasn’t certified to use one and they didn’t have one at hand, Wagner said.

Sandberg also considered trying to take down Loggins, but one of the daughters had told him Loggins was a Marine and he feared he would be unsuccessful in trying to restrain him, Wagner said. Sandberg was also a Marine veteran, the prosecutor added.

The prosecutors considered that Sandberg might have feared losing his gun in the struggle, Wagner said.

As Loggins walked toward Sandberg, ”His body was rigid, and his jaw was clenched,” Price said.

Sandberg feared Loggins was either psychotic or under the influence of drugs, Price said. Loggins ”seemed to be on a mission,” she added.

Sandberg had a legitimate reason to fear for the safety of the daughters as Loggins could have crashed the car as he either drove off into a wilderness area or through a perimeter of deputies blocking the only access road out of the school, Price and Wagner said.

The girls were not restrained with seat belts, Loggins had been driving recklessly, and it was odd to Sandberg that a military man would not follow orders, the prosecutors said.

”By all accounts he was a good man,” Wagner said, adding it was a ”tragic end” to the sergeant.

He was a 14-year veteran who was about to leave the military because of a non-combat knee injury, Price said.

Loggins was active with an Irvine church and had just finished a time of religious fasting, Price said.

He had been diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and was prescribed Adderall, the prosecutors said. His 9-year-old daughter said he stopped taking the medicine because he did not feel he needed it and because of the fast, the prosecutors said.

The autopsy did not show any signs of dehydration or any drugs in his system, the prosecutors said.

When Loggins and his daughters went to the high school parking lot the day before the shooting, Loggins was acting oddly and blurted out, ”Get away Satan,” Price said.

Rackauckas’ chief of staff, Susan Kang Schroeder, emphasized that prosecutors feel awkward using the evidence from the girls that paints their father in a negative light.

”We’re very sensitive to the family and feel so bad for the entire family,” Schroeder said.

Loggins’ widow, Phoebe, filed a wrongful death and civil rights lawsuit May 7 against Sheriff Sandra Hutchens and the county, seeking unspecified damages.

The lawsuit also alleges false arrest and imprisonment, because Loggins’ daughters were allegedly held for 13 hours without being allowed to leave.

Loggins family attorney Brian Dunn said criticized the prosecution’s report.

”We’re very disappointed,” Dunn told City News Service. ”This is a very significant insult, combined with the most devastating injury one can imagine, and the family is very disappointed in the system, but committed to fighting this in the civil arena.”

It is possible Loggins did not see the gate, which was sometimes closed and other times open when he visited the high school, Dunn said.

The attorney said the sheriff’s department’s explanation of what happened consisted of ”self-serving statements.”

16 Responses to "Prosecutors clear deputy of criminal liability in fatal shooting of Marine"

  1. Mom of lots   September 28, 2012 at 10:40 pm

    So this man was ultimately shot and killed because the officer was not trained in the use of a tazer weapon and did not have one on hand? Also, because the officer found out he was a marine and feared he would not be ale to restrain him? I find this wrongful death suit filed by his widow very appropriate. How devastating for those girls not only to have a father that was obviously going through some sort of mental breakdown, but then have the officer shoot him dead right in front of them.

  2. Me   September 29, 2012 at 11:58 am

    I’ve often said…..that if I used some of the excuses that some officers use out here to justify their use of deadly force… my 10 years in law enforcement in a major east coast PD…..I probably would have killed a dozen people…….

  3. Joemamma   September 29, 2012 at 1:55 pm

    I understand that Loggins was acting WAY strange. I also feel that police in SoCAl go to the gun WAY too fast. There are a lot of could’ves in this case. Yes Loggins could’ve driven his car off into a wilderness area, and could’ve endangered deputies. But at the same time there could be a living father of two today. Why didn’t the deputy ask the girls to get out of the car when Loggins was walking around the athletic field? Why did the deputy not approach Loggins on the field when he was unarmed and away from the children? The story says the deputy was worried he might not be able to take Loggins down because Loggins was a Marine. So how is this deputy supposed to do his job working here in SoCal if he can’t restrain Marines? If I was to walk around shooting people using the justification SoCal police have been using in the last few years, I would’ve have been locked up forever by now.

  4. local libertarian   September 29, 2012 at 3:05 pm

    This case is ridiculous. "Get your hands up! Don’t you get in that car or I’ll shoot you!" And then he did. There was no imminent danger to anyone, just an egomaniac cop who shot someone in the back 3 times for not following orders.

    Is your family next?

  5. Cimarron   September 29, 2012 at 5:24 pm

    Joemama, I agree with you, especially about removing the daughters while Loggins was on the field. Unfortunately, the story doesn’t give a timeline. The only time mentioned was when Loggins got back into the vehicle. Seems to me the deputy could have shot out a tire or two to disable the vehicle rather than kill an unarmed man in front of his daughters. Also, having known others that have experienced spiritual attacks, he may indeed have been trying to get to his "spiritual place" & get the evil away from his daughters. So inexpressibly sad that his daughters had to see their father shot & killed right in front of them. I must also add that their close proximity also endangered them, so I think it was totally wrong for the deputy to use lethal force, especially at that point in time. My sincere condolences to the family.

  6. Scottland   September 29, 2012 at 9:07 pm

    This is sick. A so called justified killing, due to a man not putting his hands up when the deputy commanded him to? I always obey the police, but why would this man be shot and killed if he was un-armed?

  7. Retired USMC   September 30, 2012 at 8:29 am

    Everyone be patient. The other side of the story will come out during the civil trial. I wouldn’t expect the county would find any wrongdoing by Deputy Sandberg. It would only increase the financial liability the county will be forced to pay in the future. Once the Loggin’s family lawyer gets done identifying all of Sandburg’s judgement errors, the cash will start flowing. Not that it will bring Sgt. Loggins back, but maybe it will encourage law enforcement to utilize less lethal means to uphold their oath to protect and serve the public.

  8. Me   September 30, 2012 at 10:55 am

    "Sandberg also considered trying to take down Loggins, but one of the daughters had told him Loggins was a Marine and he feared he would be unsuccessful in trying to restrain him, Wagner said. Sandberg was also a Marine veteran, the prosecutor added."

    You’ve got to be kidding me. Sandberg needs to seek another line of work…

  9. Sunshine   September 30, 2012 at 2:17 pm

    The majority of law enforcement officers are trigger happy and many misuse their authority and it’s no wonder they are disliked.

  10. momz   September 30, 2012 at 6:29 pm

    So sad, I agree with Mom of lots. So I guess now if you are not fit to take down a Marine you just kill them ? Unbelievable. I hope the wife gets it all and then some. Those girls had to see there father killed right in front of them holding a Bible. Police are so dishonest and quick to pull out a gun. Trust the police haha I wouldn’t trust them if my life depended on it, they probably shoot me instead of the bad guy.

  11. Saddened   October 1, 2012 at 5:10 pm

    "had just finished a time of religious fasting" and "he stopped taking the medicine " … I wouldn’t be too surprised if these two things account for his unusual behavior. Low blood sugar can make people exhibit unusual behavior and quiting psychiatric medications is never a good idea. This is so sad, but I can honestly see how it could happen. What I don’t understand is why the girls were left in the vehicle while they were looking for the father. I agree though, that the cops in Socal are way to quick on the trigger. This happens way too often.

  12. Huh?   October 1, 2012 at 6:41 pm

    I cannot believe I just read this. They shot an unarmed man, in the back?

  13. Mom of lots   October 1, 2012 at 9:42 pm

    Saddened: I think you are exactly right that the mixture of fasting and quitting a medication played a big part in his mental decline. Exactly my thoughts when I read the article. I re-read the article and realized his girls were held for over 13 hours after the shooting and were not allowed to leave? One of them only 9 years old? Wrong on so many fronts.

  14. Really?   October 2, 2012 at 7:54 am

    Where is Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, and the ACLU? …oh wait….he was white.

  15. next   October 2, 2012 at 9:33 am

    lotta crazy bible waving christofacists running around socal. this is news?

  16. busy body   October 4, 2012 at 8:13 am

    thank goodness another nut was taken out. So glad no innocent people were hurt only another bible pounding radical removed from society for not following the rules.


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