In preparation for a Tuesday, January 5th proposal to Mendocino County’s Board of Supervisors, Mendocino County Sheriff Matt Kendall generated a PowerPoint presentation to advocate for the funding and hiring of ten additional deputies to address organized crime and illegal marijuana growing.
On the second to last page of the presentation entitled “Imminent Threat – Appropriate Response,” Sheriff Kendall included two images that he sees as demonstrative of the need for more deputies: game camera footage of a late-night cannabis thief carrying an AR-15 and a photograph of a black, hogtied suspected marijuana thief with his face redacted taken by Laytonville residents after detaining him.
The inclusion of the second photograph has caused consternation among some Mendocino County residents. Resident Jade Tippet wrote on Facebook, “For Black people, it is a massively triggering image, and has no business being included in a petition to the Board of Supervisors for additional funds unless the intent is to invoke and stoke racial tension, fear, and hatred in Mendocino County.”
5th District Supervisor Ted Williams said on his Facebook page that “the final slide depicting the black man hogtied in the dirt is not one I would personally publish, and I believe it detracts from the otherwise relevant information.”
In an update on his Facebook post, Williams said, “Our Sheriff has explained to me that the slides need the context of his narrative, which will be given on Tuesday. He will highlight that the final slide is what happens when law enforcement is understaffed, and vigilante action takes over.”
In conversation with Sheriff Kendall, the images were included to depict what occurs when “people are tired of being robbed.” He sees both images as demonstrative of “what happens when deputies do not show up.”
Sheriff Kendall addressed the inclusion of the images. He said, “unfortunately, the images are the things that a lot of our residents are seeing.”
Speaking to the game camera footage of the night-time, gun-wielding cannabis thief, Sheriff Kendall said, “the man with the big rucksack on his back was put on Facebook by a cultivator who chose not to notify law enforcement. That is a frightening thing to have happening behind your house.”
Addressing the image of the cannabis robbery suspect hogtied, Sheriff Kendall explained, “ that is basically what happened to him when locals found him.” Recalling the circumstances that led up to the act of vigilante justice, Kendall said, “Deputies were out investigating the robbery the night before and had caught some folks, but not all of them. Locals went out, caught this guy, and as you can see in the images, he was bound up and hogtied with his hands to his feet.”
After getting a call from an “old friend” who took offense to the image, Sheriff Kendall said he was going to pull the image from the presentation so as not to offend anyone else.
Sheriff Kendall explained that he redacted the hogtied, cannabis robber’s face because he wanted to highlight the results of vigilante justice and not the individual’s face, race, or age.
Sheriff Kendall wondered if “the Sheriff’s office had not have been out there working on this the night before, whether he [the hogtied man] might have suffered a worse outcome.”
Unequivocally, Sheriff Kendall said, “We don’t want to see any vigilante justice. I always have this terrible fear, especially in Mendocino County, where we are so accustomed to dealing with things ourselves. If you are not trained, I don’t believe you should be enforcing the law.”