PD Editorial: Embattled supervisor needs to speak

  • News/--Efren Carrillo, left, is sworn in to the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors by former assemblyman Art Torres, Tuesday January 6, 2009 in Santa Rosa. (Kent Porter / The Press Democrat)2008

Efren Carrillo's employers deserve a more thorough explanation about what happened outside a San Diego bar over Labor Day weekend. After all, it's not every day that a Sonoma County supervisor gets arrested after a fight.

Carrillo, 31, was taken into custody following an early-morning altercation involving three people in the popular Gaslamp Quarter of downtown San Diego. He issued a written statement saying he was protecting some women in his party from "rowdies" who "approached our group and harassed" them. "I'm anxious to tell my side of the story during legal proceedings," he wrote.

Carrillo left Thursday on a trip to Russia with a 23-member delegation from Fort Ross State Historic Park. His aide told reporters that he won't discuss his arrest until he returns in two weeks. As we noted, Carrillo's employers — the voters of the Fifth District of Sonoma County — deserve better than that. The last time we checked, Russia still has phone service.

We understand that he was on a personal trip to San Diego when this fight occurred. And we have no reason to question his version of events — as limited as it is.

Nevertheless, this is a serious matter, one that can't be dismissed easily. Carrillo faces a felony battery charge. He also has been charged with disturbing the peace, a misdemeanor.

Meanwhile, the facts of what happened remain sketchy. According to police in San Diego, the arrests occurred when two police officers encountered three people fighting in the street at 2:10 a.m.

Initial reports indicated that one man was left unconscious as a result of the fight and had to be taken to a hospital. Thankfully, it appears that person, a self-described marketing specialist and entrepreneur from Arizona, was not seriously hurt. Authorities say Jovan Will, 30, was treated and released. He refused to talk to reporters when contacted.

Another person, 22-year-old Rayan Jastanyah of San Diego, also was arrested on the same charges as Carrillo. But it's unclear how he was involved.

Prosecutors haven't decided whether to pursue the case, and, given that nobody, by all appearances, was seriously injured, it's possible this will all blow away before Carrillo's scheduled arraignment on Oct. 15. However, that still doesn't remove Carrillo's obligation to explain himself to the people of Sonoma County.

Carrillo, the first Latino elected to the board, has been something of a rising star in local politics. Known for his energy and exuberance, he rarely misses a ribbon-cutting or community event, particularly in his district. His commitment and thoughtfulness are among the reasons why we supported him in the past two elections.

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