Initially, Jim Amormino, a spokesman for the Orange County Sheriff’s Department, said that the deputy involved had been chasing Sgt. Loggins, while was Loggins was driving at a high rate of speed, trying to get the sergeant to pull over. Amormino went on to say that Sgt. Loggins crashed through a locked gate at San Clemente High School as the deputy followed behind. Sgt. Loggins then allegedly stopped his SUV, got out and walked away.
Let’s stop for just a second, and take a look at the second story told by the sheriff’s department.
The second version of this story told by sheriff’s department spokesman Jim Amormino, is that the deputy was not chasing or following Sgt. Loggins, but was parked in an adjacent parking lot, working on a report when he heard Sgt. Loggins crash through the locked gate, and upon hearing the crash, went to investigate. This second version continues with Amormino saying that the deputy pulled in behind Sgt. Loggins SUV and watched the sergeant get out of the SUV and begin to walk away, and the deputy then exited his patrol car and ordered Sgt. Loggins to stop. Loggins then continued to walk away and into the darkness. The deputy then attempted to follow Sgt. Loggins, but heard the children screaming, and so the deputy stopped, radioed in for back-up saying that he had a hit and run and child endangerment situation. The deputy then turned, and approached the SUV, where he got into the back seat of the SUV with the children and began to question them.
Two entirely different versions of the same event, and told by the same individual. But wait, there’s a third version as well, this one told by the AOCDS, the Association of Orange County Deputy Sheriff’s, the union who is representing the deputy involved in the deadly shooting. This third version, the AOCDS version, is allegedly the “correct” version, at least according to the AOCDS union. Let’s take a look at it.
“On February, 7, 2012 at around 4:30 in the morning, Manuel Loggins Jr., 31, driving with his two daughters, 9 and 14, unseatbelted in the back seat of his GMC Yukon, plowed through a locked gate at San Clemente High School. The force of the crash left sections of the gate embedded in the bottom of the Yukon and drew the attention of an on-duty sheriff’s deputy who was in an adjacent parking lot writing reports. After coming to a stop, Loggins got out of the Yukon, ignored repeated orders from the uniformed deputy sheriff, and walked off into the dark, abandoning his two daughters left behind in the Yukon. The deputy began to follow Loggins on foot when he heard children’s screams coming from the car. The deputy then returned to the Yukon, and found Loggins’ two girls. Loggins, now in a darkened part of the adjacent field, could be heard yelling irrational statements. The deputy radioed for immediate assistance, informing dispatchers of a hit-and-run accident and child endangerment situation. Additional Sheriff’s personnel arrived and comforted the children in the back seat. Loggins’ children told deputies their father had been acting oddly.” (taken verbatim from the AOCDS press release)
Although this version is essentially the same as the second version told by the sheriff’s department, the union version has added that Sgt. Loggins voice could be heard coming from a “darkened part of adjacent field” where he was allegedly yelling irrational statements. Although it is obvious, I have to point out that this must be one remarkable deputy who can hear a voice coming from out of the dark, and immediately be able to identify it as coming from someone he had never heard before in his life. Amazing.
Now, the story (or stories) do not stop here. But I did feel it was important to establish the fact that we are dealing with three different versions of what happened. Versions One and Two from the sheriff’s department itself, and Version Three, the “correct” version which came from the union. Let’s continue.
After Sgt. Loggins walked off into the dark, allegedly ignoring the deputies orders to stop, the deputy the radioed for back-up, reporting a hit and run / child endangerment situation. The deputy then entered Sgt. Loggins SUV to question the children. Other deputies then arrived, and deputy #1 (the initial deputy) then assumedly left the SUV and briefed the responding deputies as to the situation. I say assumedly as this would be standard procedure. At this point, our three versions begin to differ.
In Version One, Sgt. Loggins began to return to his children and his SUV. Deputy #1 then drew his weapon, as did the other deputies, and Sgt. Loggins was ordered to stop. Deputy #1 then felt threatened by Sgt. Loggins, and Deputy #1 then shot Sgt. Loggins multiple times, killing him. In Version Two, Sgt. Loggins began to return and the deputies drew their weapons and ordered him to stop, and Sgt. Loggins continued on up to his SUV, entered the SUV, started it, and began to put the vehicle into gear, and Deputy #1 felt that the children were in danger so he shot Sgt. Loggins multiple times, at near point blank range through the drivers side window, killing Sgt. Loggins. In Version Three, the union’s “correct” version, Sgt. Loggins returned, the deputies drew their weapons and ordered him to stop, Sgt. Loggins entered his SUV, started it, and began to drive away when Deputy #1 shot him multiple times at near point blank range, killing him.
In reading these three different versions of the situation, questions begin to run through my mind. First and foremost, why are there three “official” versions of this incident, and why do they vary so much? This alone causes me to questions the truthfulness of the sheriff’s department’s accounting of the incident. Aside from that, however, I also have several questions regarding the tactics employed by the deputies. The deputy states that after Sgt. Loggins walked off into the dark, he (the deputy) called for backup and then entered Sgt. Loggins parked SUV to question the children. If the deputy thought the children were in danger (which he apparently did since he called in a child endangerment situation), why did he leave them in the SUV? The deputy clearly had plenty of time between the moment he called for backup, and that backup arrived, to remove the children from the SUV and place them in his patrol car for their safety. And yet the deputy did not. In fact, none of the responding deputies removed the children from what they clearly thought was a dangerous situation.
My second question is, why didn’t any of the deputies disable the SUV, and thus remove a potential avenue of escape from their suspect? In 23 years of working in law enforcement, I have never met a cop who did not have a lock-back knife on them. Any one of the deputies could have slashed the SUV’s tires, and it would have taken only seconds to do so. Or, they could have opened the hood and disconnected or cut the battery cables, or yanked out sparkplug wires, or done any number of things to disable the SUV, and yet not one of them did. They simply left it there to be used by their suspect.
Third, why did they shoot Sgt. Loggins? In all three versions, Sgt. Loggins walked away from his SUV. He did not run. In all three versions, when he returned from the darkened area of the adjacent football field, he walked up and did not run. So at any time, any one of the deputies could very easily have tased Sgt. Loggins, and yet, not one of them did. Why didn’t the deputies simply wrestle him to the ground and restrain him? In one new report, there were at least five deputies (the initial deputy and four responding deputies). I find it odd that three trained law enforcement officers could not physically restrain one man.
And lastly, the deputies allegedly felt that the children were in danger, and yet they left them in the SUV. According to the “correct” version of the incident put out by the AOCDS union, the deputy did not open fire on Sgt. Loggins until the sergeant began to drive away. Wouldn’t shooting the driver of a moving vehicle actually endanger the children sitting in the back seat? If the deputies hadn’t been able to get into the vehicle and stop it, the children could have been easily injured or killed. If upon being shot, Sgt. Loggins had pressed down on the accelerator, the SUV would have sped away uncontrolled, again, endangering the children. It seems to me that during the entire incident, as reported by both the sheriff’s department and the AOCDS union, the only ones endangering the children were the sheriff’s deputies.
On the basis of the three different versions of the incident as told by the sheriff’s department and the AOCDS union, I can almost, almost accept that the deputies acted in their best judgment. Not saying that they were right in what they did, but even with the three different stories, there is some room for giving them the benefit of the doubt. That being said, however, the three “official” versions of this incident simply do not mesh with what others are saying, in particular, a large number of United States Marines, including the commander of Camp Pendleton.
A large number of Marines, including Sgt. Loggins’ commanding officer, have said that Sgt. Loggins was the “picture perfect” Marine, and excellent citizen. Sgt. Loggins had a long history of public service and community volunteerism. He was a “Big Brother” volunteer and a regular volunteer at nursing homes. In fact, according to his supervisor, Major Christopher Cox, Sgt. Loggins was close to earning a degree in nursing. Major Cox went on to describe Sgt. Loggins by saying, “He was a mentor, somewhat of a father figure, to a number of the Marines,” Cox said. “He was very soft-spoken, very non-confrontational — very, very respectful. He was just the epitome of respect.”
During his 14 years in the Marine Corps, Sgt. Loggins awarded several good conduct medals, as well as top proficiency and achievement medals, and unit commendations. He was also in line to eligible for officer candidate school and a full commission as a Marine Corps Officer.
It was well known that Sgt. Loggins went to the school every morning with his children, driving through the same unlocked gate, that was always unlocked, but that deputies claim was locked, on the day of the shooting. They went to the school so they could walk together around the track, and share together what they had read in the Bible. Maj. Cox described Sgt. Loggins as a very devout Christian, who walked with his children every day before dropping them off and going to work, which he was scheduled for on the morning of his death. Sgt. Loggins’ wife also used to go with them as well, but at 36 weeks pregnant, she was unable to do so on the day of the shooting.
Col. Nicholas Marano, the commanding officer at Camp Pendleton said,”Sgt. Loggins was a very well loved and well respected sergeant.” Col. Marano also expressed concern about the lack of information being released by the sheriff’s department, as did Maj. Cox. Apparently, video from the deputies patrol car dash cams is not available, and CCTV from the schools cameras has gone missing as well, thus eliminating any video footage which would corroborate the “official” sheriff’s department’s version(s) of what happened. Radio traffic during the incident that would have been recorded is being withheld as well.
Further research has shown that Sgt. Loggins had no history of mental illness, or drug or alcohol abuse, and there was no evidence to suggest that drugs or alcohol played a role in the incident, nor were any weapons found on or near Sgt. Loggins body, nor anywhere in his SUV. According to reports, he was unarmed except for his Bible.
Maj. Cox said, “I’ve got some Marines that are very upset.” Understandably so, and although I admit I do not know all the facts, it does appear that the deputy shot and killed the wrong man, and I can say that I would not want to be a sheriff’s deputy in Orange County, California right now.
See the link below to download the AOCDS Union Press Release regarding this incident