Friday, July 19, 2024

Sheriff Kendall Criticizes Judge That Would Let the Suspect in Yesterday’s Standoff Out on Short-Term Release and Is Concerned About Behavioral Health’s Inability to Respond

Christopher Brockway being taken into custody as yesterday’s standoff concluded [Pictures of the standoff were taken by local photographer Brandon Tripp]

Yesterday, multiple law enforcement agencies including a SWAT team and a Hostage Negotiation team responded after a fugitive threatened suicide by cop and barricaded himself in a vehicle along Laytonville’s Branscomb Road.

Mendocino County Sheriff Matt Kendall sat down with us to discuss two major concerns that emerged from yesterday’s standoff in Laytonville: a local judge would deem it appropriate to give a short-term release pass to a prisoner accused of serious charges and when the county’s crisis workers were called upon to assist in de-escalating, they were unable to respond.

In the days leading up to yesterday’s standoff, 33-year-old Albion man Christopher Brockway stood in front of a Mendocino County judge facing a litany of felonies including possession of stolen property, possession of a firearm, check forgery, identity theft, and theft from an elder.

A press release issued by MCSO on December 19, 2021, described Brockway’s arrest for his involvement in an alleged extensive mail theft operation. Deputies found that Brockway and his girlfriend, Shevelle Perkins, had stored in their vehicle an assortment of mail from the Ukiah, Hopland, Redwood Valley, and Willits area. Their collection allegedly included “washed” and altered checks, debit cards, and stolen goods from around the county. A search of the vehicle also resulted in the discovery of a 9mm handgun without a serial number.

Sheriff Kendall was surprised a local judge would issue a short-term release pass for an offender accused of such serious crimes. These short-term release passes are issued at a judge’s discretion and to county jail prisoners who are facing death in the family or medical emergency for a loved one. Sheriff Kendall argued the severity of the charges should inform the issuance of them.

SWAT Team members staged around Brockway’s vehicle [Pictures of the standoff were taken by local photographer Brandon Tripp]

“The county jail is no longer filled with sentenced misdemeanors. We don’t have the guys who caught 180 days in the county on a DUI. The jail is now filled with prisoners who would have filled our state prisons,” Sheriff Kendall said. With this change in population, he argued, “These judges need  to realize that when they let these people out on a pass, bad things can happen.”

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The changing landscape of California’s criminal justice system and the ubiquity of illegal drugs, Sheriff Kendall said, changes the calculus magistrates must consider when issuing these short-term release passes. “Nowadays, we have massive issues with addiction, access to drugs because no one is getting locked up, and this guy gets out, there’s a good chance he’ll be in the middle of a binge when he’s expected to return.”

Another consequence of the short-term release pass issuance and the subsequent standoff, Sheriff Kendall pointed out, was the large cost incurred by the sheriff’s office. The potential of expenditures like these should be considered when issuing short-term release passes, especially as the Board of Supervisors is taking a critical look at MCSO’s budget, Sheriff Kendall argued. He added that the resulting expenditures are not only yesterday’s standoff but the cost of transporting Brockway to the courthouse and overtime for his deputies to testify to the standoff in court.

Finally, when it comes to what institution carries the liability for a situation like this gone wrong, Sheriff Kendall argued his deputies would end up sued, not the judge who issued the short-term release pass, or the suspect who failed to report back to jail after his pass expired. 

Handler and K9 on the site of yesterday’s standoff[Pictures of the standoff were taken by local photographer Brandon Tripp]

Sheriff Kendall wryly proposed that if courtroom judges were asked to intervene in a situation like yesterday’s standoff, the issuance of these short-term release passes would be a “different story.”

Another concern from yesterday’s standoff that came into focus for Sheriff Kendall was the need to build out Mendocino County’s Mobile Crisis Response team designed to respond and provide crisis support during emergency responses concerning mental health needs. 

When agencies were initially amassing to address the standoff yesterday morning, the Crisis Response team was called upon to assist in negotiating with Brockway who was clearly in a mental health crisis and threatening to commit ‘suicide by cop.’ MCSO was informed that a crisis worker would be unable to respond to the scene so “the SWAT Team crisis negotiator continued communications with Brockway,” as per a press release issued yesterday evening.

The Mobile Crisis Response Team currently has one full-time crisis worker, and a second is currently training with Ukiah Police Department and MCSO, which will provide law enforcement with their support seven days per week, but during daylight hours only. 

Law enforcement standing by as negotiators work to deescalate the standoff [Pictures of the standoff were taken by local photographer Brandon Tripp]

Sheriff Kendall looks forward to the day when his deputies are supported 24/7 by crisis workers trained in de-escalation, but the Mobile Crisis Response Team as currently designed cannot provide comprehensive support. 

Yesterday’s standoff is another example of the collaborative nature of Mendocino County’s law enforcement and first responder agencies. Sheriff Kendall expressed gratitude for California Highway Patrol, Laytonville Fire Department, Cal Fire, and the multi-agency SWAT team for working together to de-escalate the standoff and successfully take Brockway into custody.

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  1. ?? I pray for a revival in Christian evangelical churches and individuals who would take the gospel to the streets once again.

    ??They’re the ones who can make a difference. Jesus Christ makes a difference. I say this because I KNOW this! It’s our duty especially in these “unprecedented “ times. I have come to hate that word and cringe at its hearing.

    People of faith can we fast together for our county this Friday? Jan 21st, 2022. God is real. Jesus Christ is real and they are both alive and well. You can pray 24/7 rain or shine. Alone or with someone else. Jesus loves us, He died for us on a cross, and wants to forgive us and deliver us. He has so much compassion for us. Please pray ? If you’re addicted pray, if you’re hurting pray, If your life isn’t going the way you hoped pray. If you’re scared or lonely, pray! Pray to God in Jesus name. if you’re sick call the elders of the church and have them come and pray for you. If they won’t there is something wrong with them not you. God is not a respecter of persons. That means anyone can pray and receive help from Him.

    Jesus Christ is our hope. There’s hope in Him. He can help you and give you peace in the midst of this chaotic world we are living in. ??

  2. “ I pray for a revival in Christian evangelical churches and individuals who would take the gospel to the streets once again.” you are absolutely correct! When we as a society walk away from our beliefs things like this happen. Time for God to be back in our hearts and guiding our actions.

  3. Property crimes only, no violence. A felon in possession of a firearm. I see no reason he should not have been released. Violent offenders are released daily to make room for “crimes against the state” drugs or publishing America’s war crimes like Assang, Snowden, and Manning did. A bag of meth, fentenal or heroine would not be released because that is also a crime against the state. Clean legal drugs would destroy America’s prison industry.

  4. Also! Is miss Perkins still in jail? We don’t give a shit until something goes shithouse. Perhaps they loved their dog but could not afford a vet. We love to judge when we have so few facts.

  5. He had a ghost gun. Isn’t that enough to keep him without a temp pass? I realize the lawmakers don’t give a ? about the endless nightmare one suffers after ID theft, which is part of dude’s original charge (stealing mail and checks to others), but a ghost gun – really? And, not sure for what, but this dude has had his mug in the news quite frequently. A big error by the judge. Thank you to all the 1st responders and LEOs. ps I guess the idea of mental health handling such cases is really not a good idea. And, the re-fund the police should become a topic of discussion, in all reality.


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Matt LaFever
Matt LaFeverhttps://mendofever.com/
I have been an Emerald Triangle resident since 2006 and this is year ten in Mendocino County. Please, email me at matthewplafever@gmail.com if you know a story that needs to be told.

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