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Do I take the Sheriff Department to court?


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#1 mrforged

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Posted 29 November 2012 - 12:46 AM


I had an accident while flying my remote controlled helicopter a week ago. Basically, the helicopter flew out of my sight and although I immediately went looking it, I was unable to locate it until two days later. I found out that it had smashed into a parked vehicle, completely shattering its windshield. I made contact with the owner of the vehicle, his name is Mr. E, and I promptly reimbursed him for his damages.


When I asked Mr E. for my helicopter, he informed me that he had called the Sheriff's department to make a report as he believed it would be needed for insurance purposes. Mr. E told me that the Sheriff's deputy who responded to the call had told Mr E. that he would have to take the helicopter with him if a report was written up. Mr E. agreed, and a report was made. As the Sheriff's deputy took information for the report, he told Mr. E. that it was unlikely the helicopter had been flown into the windshield on purpose, because the helicopter looked very expensive and the deputy was certain someone would be coming looking for it. Regardless, a vandalism report was made, the Sheriff's deputy took some photographs of the damage made to Mr. E's truck, and of the truck only, then put my helicopter in his police cruiser's trunk, and left in a hurry because he 'had more important things to do.'


Mr. E provided me with the report number, the name of the deputy, a very good description of the state my helicopter was in when it was taken by the Sheriff, as well as photographs of it taken right after it had crashed onto his truck. Mr E., his wife, and his mother have all told me that they will give their testimony in court. I am having a notary take their statements this Friday.


I then contacted the Sheriff's station, I was transferred to the property and evidence room and then I was told my helicopter was not there. I rushed to the station in person looking for the deputy but I was told that he was not working that day and would not be in until two days later, on Friday. I called the station that Friday, after 2PM as I had been instructed, and were told that the deputy was not working that day either. I then called once again on Saturday and, as you may have guessed it, I was told the very same thing: he is not working today! I knew something was amiss, so I decided to go to the Sheriff's station the following day in person.


When I arrived, I was told the deputy was out fielding a call but that he had been informed I wanted to speak to him and were instructed to wait a few minutes. I waited there for well over an hour and then I was told that the deputy would be taking longer than expected, and probably wouldn't be back to the station any time soon. "What is it that you need from him?" I was asked. I replied that I wanted to get my property back, that's all. I was then told that I probably wouldn't be able to get my helicopter back because the deputy more than likely checked it in as evidence and the evidence room was not opened on weekends. I then informed the deputy helping me at the front desk that the evidence room had no record of the helicopter and he seemed very surprised about that. So he told me that he would radio and find out where my helicopter was. 20 - 30 minutes, lo and behold, the deputy who had taken my property made time to come talk to me.


Unfortunately, the deputy said to me that he had disposed of the helicopter at the request of Mr. E. That statement made no sense to me, and when I told Mr. E about this, he pointed out to me that if he wanted to dispose of the helicopter, he had a trash can just feet away where he could have done so without having to bother the officer. Mr. E also reminded me that the deputy had said the helicopter looked very expensive and someone would be coming to look for it. The deputy also claimed that the helicopter was in pieces, and while it is true that the canopy and the blades were totally broken from the accident, damage to the helicopter itself was minor and the helicopter was in one piece. This information was also provided by Mr. E, who was very surprised at the fact that the helicopter had pretty much survived the accident intact, his wife, and his mother also agreed.


I spoke to the deputy's supervisor and she denied my request to speak to the watch commander on duty. She told me the watch commander would not be coming out to talk to me because he had much better things to do. The supervisor said she didn't see how there was any wrongdoing involved and boasted that the deputy had taken pictures of my helicopter, clearly showing it was in pieces, and that these pictures had been turned in as evidence. However, when I asked to see the pictures, I was told I couldn't see them because the pictures had been put on a CD, and turned in as evidence and even she had no access to them.


The following day, I escalated the matter directly to the mayor of my city and she quickly engaged the Sheriff's station captain. Before you know it, the watch commander was at my home, at first apologizing for not having been able to come talk to me 'soon enough' while I was at the station, then later changing his tone to say that I 'should take some responsibility' for what had happened. The watch commander also had a single photograph of my helicopter with him, and what I saw there did not match the state my helicopter was in the pictures that were given to me by Mr. E a few days earlier. I was given a claim form to submit to the Sheriff's department, and the watch commander said to me that he didn't think I would be getting anything from them given the state of the helicopter in the picture. I also got a copy of that picture.


My helicopter is worth $1,500. My worst-case scenario repair estimates based on what I have seen in the pictures is no more than $200. Most importantly, the helicopter is MY property. I have paid for all damages, I broke no laws in my city, and I am not about to let this matter go. Does anyone know if I am allowed to take the Sheriff's Department, the Sheriff's deputy, or even my city to small claims court to settle this matter? Also, is there a way I can subpoena a digital bona-fide copy of the photograph the watch commander showed me? I live in the County of Los Angeles.


Thanks for your help.


#2 adjusterjack

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Posted 29 November 2012 - 09:28 AM

Does anyone know if I am allowed to take the Sheriff's Department, the Sheriff's deputy, or even my city to small claims court to settle this matter? Also, is there a way I can subpoena a digital bona-fide copy of the photograph the watch commander showed me? I live in the County of Los Angeles.

Thanks for your help.


Yes, you can sue the Sheriff's Department in small claims court.

But first you must follow the procedures of the CA tort claims act.

Scroll down to Part 3 - Claims against public entities:

http://www.leginfo.c...debody=&hits=20

Once you get to the point where you can actually file a lawsuit, you don't subpoena items from the defendant, you engage in discovery if discovery is allowed in small claims court.

You can learn more about CA small claims court at:

http://www.courts.ca.gov/selfhelp.htm

If discovery is not permitted in small claims court you will have to rely on your own evidence.

Warning: Legal issues are complicated. Explanations and comments here are simplified and might not fully explain the ramifications of your particular issue. I am not a lawyer. I do not give legal advice. I make comments based on my knowledge and experience. I guarantee nothing. If you act on my comments without the advice of an attorney, you do so at your own risk.


#3 pg1067

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Posted 29 November 2012 - 11:43 AM

Once you get to the point where you can actually file a lawsuit, you don't subpoena items from the defendant, you engage in discovery if discovery is allowed in small claims court.


No discovery of any sort is permitted in California small claims court. See Code of Civil Procedure Section 116.310(b).

#4 Guest_FindLaw_Amir_*

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Posted 30 November 2012 - 03:09 PM

I suggest you consult with a local Lawyer for clarification on how to proceed with your claim for damages.

#5 mrforged

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Posted 01 December 2012 - 02:32 AM

Thank you to all those of you who replied to my post.




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