BRENTWOOD (CBS SF) — Police in Brentwood offered some clarification Thursday in regard to a recent incident where a masked vandalism suspect who was seen in surveillance video armed with a machete had been cited and released by officers.
The incident in question happened early on the morning of Saturday, April 11, according to the time stamp on surveillance video provided by Brentwood police. In three separate clips, the male suspect wearing a mask can be seen on the front porch of a home.
In two of the clips, the suspect can be seen either holding or trying to remove what police would later identify to be security cameras. In the third, he is seen to be holding what appears to be a machete in his right hand.
Police said they initially responded to the home that morning, but the suspect was already gone.
When the suspect who vandalized the property by damaging and removing the security cameras and allegedly slashing the tire of a car returned to the home two hours later, he was caught by officers and arrested. Police said the suspect was cited by officers for a misdemeanor and not taken to county jail.
In the explanation offered Thursday, police said that when the suspect was taken into custody, officers were not aware of the man being armed with a machete because that video had not yet been seen by the homeowner reporting the crime and was not provided to authorities until the following day.
“As far as our officers were concerned when they responded that morning, there was no machete. Nor was there any reason to think a machete was part of this incident,” the social media post explaining the situation read. “The homeowner did not report that the man had a machete. The photos from the video surveillance the homeowner provided did not show the suspect holding a machete. When officers found the suspect, he wasn’t holding a machete.”
Police said the stolen security cameras, which were returned to the homeowner, were valued at $300. Under state law, the value of the items only qualified as misdemeanor petty theft. In accordance with current directives to only take suspects in certain violent crimes and felonies into custody due to the coronavirus, Brentwood authorities said the suspect was arrested, cited and released with a notice to appear in court.
“It was clearly a traumatic night for the homeowner and his family,” the statement posted on social media by police read. “Often times, in situations like this, important information does not come out immediately and, given the dramatic nature of these events, that’s not unreasonable.”
Brentwood police said that if the officers had the information about the machete at the time of the suspect’s arrest, it might have changed the outcome of the investigation and arrest. Police said the new evidence will be given to the Contra Costa County District Attorney’s Office for further consideration of additional charges.
“We hope this provides an understanding of what we did, and why, given the information we had at the time,” the police statement on social media read. “Sometimes the law can be very frustrating and confusing, but know that we will always do our utmost to provide our community with the best service possible.”