Spit at in Del Taco

Don't expect the cops to help with misdemeanors

One Del Taco employee told me people have come into the restaurant and spit in his face many times.
  • One Del Taco employee told me people have come into the restaurant and spit in his face many times.

On Friday (August 24) I had lunch at Del Taco on C and 11th downtown. I used the restroom and came out to see a tall middle-aged homeless man yelling at the restaurant’s security guard.

As I walked by, the homeless man turned to me and spit in my face. Thank God I’ve been vaccinated against Hepatitis A, I thought. I would’ve rather get punched in the face.

I called 911, but the man got away. The dispatcher told me a police officer would come out to meet me. After waiting an hour I went down the street to police headquarters on Broadway between 14th and 15th to file a report there. I was told they couldn’t do it. The central division station was responsible. I went back to the meeting point on 11th.

I continued to wait. I called to see if I could go to the central division station at 25th and Imperial to file the report. They refused. So I kept waiting. It was 12:44 pm when I called 911. An officer arrived at 4:20 pm.

The officer who came refused to file a report. There was an incident report (because I called 911), but there would be no crime report and no investigation, he told me.

He explained to me that the crime was a misdemeanor and that police officers cannot arrest people for misdemeanors unless it happens in their presence. He said the only way a prosecution can happen is through a “citizen’s arrest,” but the perpetrator had to be present for that to happen.

The officer added that since more than three hours had passed it was a “cold case,” even though the only time that passed was the time it took for police to respond.

Not long after I told the officer Del Taco has video surveillance and the security guard was a witness, he said he had to leave for another radio call and drove away.

One Del Taco employee told me people have come into the restaurant and spit in his face many times. “One guy came in spitting so much he was trying to make it shower on me. I called the cops and they never came. Spitting in someone's face has to be a felony. It’s chemical warfare.”

He continued, “If the cops come at all they always come after it’s too late. It's almost to the point where you have to take justice into your own hands.”

When I lived in Barrio Logan last summer a former resident who stayed in the apartment before I moved in returned when he was released from prison. He came to the apartment demanding to be let in. When I declined to unlock the front door he threatened to assault me and destroy my property. He left when I got my phone out.

The San Diego police officers at the central division station refused to file either a crime report or an incident report about the threats made against me. They said they only file reports after crimes are committed.

In El Cajon last month a man waiting at a bus stop next to me randomly elbowed me in the chest. It was a four-hour wait to speak to a police officer. I was told the same thing in that case, no arrest would be made because the act wasn’t done in the presence of police officers.

A San Diego Sheriff’s spokesperson pointed me to “Arrests,” published by Alameda District Attorney’s Office, which explains California state law prohibits (with certain exceptions) police officers from making arrests for misdemeanors not done in their presence.

It would be considered “in the presence” if a police officer views an incident through live video surveillance, but is not considered “in the presence” if a police officer views a video recording of something that already happened, no matter how recent.

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Comments

An officer I interviewed for a story said that defecating and pissing on the street isn't a crime unless a police officer sees it happen. It makes sense that spitting would be the same thing. It seems in the face is an assault though.

Shoplifting also seems to be so common now that police don't respond to those crimes. I've seen it happen in North Park. Apparently it's just part of the cost of doing business these days.

I know they are short-staffed but just having more cop cars around would help. The thugs seem to know what they can do so even if someone calls the police, they won't show. I have seen some run or race off in their car from just hearing a police siren. Hmmm, maybe I need to find an ap of a police siren and blow it through my portable Bose as needed.

interesting idea. kind of like a scarecrow, or places that have an audio recording of a predatory bird high in the food chain repeating over and over to keep the pigeons, etc.. away.

If I were you I immediately file a complaint with the police department for poor service. First: being spat upon is a crime, period. It is a battery and crime against a person. It is a misdemeanor and yes the officer cannot, by law, make an arrest unless the misdemeanor occurs in his or her presence. But that’s why we have citizen’s arrest. And, no the suspect most likely would not have gone to jail. They would have been issued a misdemeanor citation with their promise to appear in court at a later date. But it is still a crime and NEEDS TO BE REPORTED. Second: the officer at the front counter at 14th & Broadway, PDHQ, should have taken the report. All he or she needed to do is send the report the automated crime reporting system to the proper command, in this case central division. This is an example of repeated may-tagging, washing out a legitimate crime report by those who a being too lazy to take the report.

While the chances of this case getting to court are very slim all of the officers you contacted should have taken the report. In the City of San Diego all misdemeanors are prosecuted by the City Attoney’s office, not the District Attorney. If the suspect is identified later, a notify warrant can be issued. And you will be required to testify in court of the case would be dismissed.

All officers who refused to take this report should now be reprimanded for failing to properly take the report. I urge you to follow through, ,file a crime report, demand to see a supervisor, and file a complaint!

One thing the officer at headquarters said to me is that the responding officer would look at video surveillance at the restaurant, so he may have thought the report would be better filed in the field. He also said there weren't that many calls in the queue, so he didn't think I would have to wait as long as I did (a traffic cop who pulled someone over on the street where i was waiting also looked up my call and said there weren't that many in the queue.) On the other hand he did say that he can't take my report. So if you are correct, then that is a problem. That the responding officer in the field not only refused to talk to the security guard witness or request video footage, or even file a report after I waited so long, seems to me the biggest problem.

That is a ridiculous reason for the HQ front counter person not to take the report. Even if the field officer saw the video chances are he or she could not get a copy then. That’s why we have detectives and case follow up. Detectives could get a warrant to seize the evidence if the business did not cooperate.

San Diego Police Department responded to my questions after I submitted the story and one policy I received is relevant. https://s3.amazonaws.com/themis.datasd.org/policies_procedures/Procedures/6.0%20Patrol/604.pdf Department Policy 6.04 about crime/incident reports. Section IV(A)(4) "All misdemeanor crimes are to be reported if the crime is against persons or property and has a victim against whose person or property the crime was directed." Section III(B)(3) "Deliberate failure to report a crime is dereliction of duty and grounds for disciplinary action."

Sadly the officers made more of an effort to wash out this report than just taking it. ALL THE MORE REASON TO FILE A COMPLAINT!

The San Diego Police Department is and has always been staffed at a low level as it relates to patrol officers per capita. Some areas have one officer on patrol. The majority of the officers are distributed in the highest crime areas. They will not respond to quality of life issues and will blow off most misdemeanor calls.

They definitely don't care about drivers blowing though stop signs. I see that happen every day in North Park.

"Some areas have one officer on patrol."

And yet, when they've nabbed a petty criminal, you will find seven patrol cars gathered with lights flashing and five cops standing around the scene while four others are beating the stuffing out of the handcuffed 'perp' and three cops are confiscating smartphones and cameras from witnesses.

Some crime scenes are more entertaining than others. If you really want a cop, you should make your situation sound a bit dramatic. Someone spit on you? C'mon, you can do better. Report that the person spit on you and also fondled a little boy who was nearby.

But yeah, if you are involved in a minor incident at a time when major crimes are being pursued, you may be out of luck. Of course, when it happens to you, it's more important than if it was someone else, but you need to work that out on your own.

WARNING: This post may include irony, sarcasm and general poor taste.

Apply for a CCW. "An armed society is a polite society".

All CCW permits are issued by the Sheriffs Office. It is almost impossible to get an application approved by the SO. The number of licensed CCW civilians on the street are greatly outnumbered by the criminals with guns.

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