Dan Wagner, Assistant District Attorney, and Susan A. Price, Senior Deputy District Attorney, speaking at the OC District Attorney Office. The District Attorney has cleared an OC Sheriff's Deputy of wrongdoing in the February shooting death of Manuel Loggins in San Clemente. Photo: Ben Bergman/KPCC
The Orange County District Attorney has cleared a sheriff's deputy of wrongdoing in the fatal shooting of a Marine who'd crashed his car at San Clemente High School earlier this year.
Assistant District Attorney Dan Wagner told reporters Friday that an investigation concluded Orange County Sheriff's Deputy Darren Sandberg was justified in his decision to shoot.
It was an early February morning when Manuel Loggins, 31, drove with his two young daughters to the high school for a workout on the track and bible study.
It was a normal routine for the family, but on this morning Loggins was acting erratically. His 14-year-old daughter told investigators her father had a stern and angry look on his face and was speeding as he drove. He ran a red light and crashed through a gate at the school.
Deputy Sandberg happened to be in the school’s parking lot that morning.
The District Attorney's report says when the deputy approached Loggins, he saw something in his hand he couldn’t make out. When Sandberg asked Loggins to put his hands up Loggins ignored him, and then tried to drive away.
That’s when Sandberg shot Loggins dead.
“It’s our ultimate conclusion that the evidence is insufficient for us to charge Deputy Sandberg for his conduct; that he did what he said he did to protect the daughters of Mr. Loggins,” said Wagner.
That object that Loggins was holding in his hand turned out not to be a weapon. It was a bible.
But Wagner said it wasn’t just Sandberg who thought Loggins might do something dangerous. He said investigators heard the same from one of Loggins' daughters in the car.
“She feared that her father was going to get in the car and drive forward and crash into a building,” said Wagner. “She told the investigators ‘I was afraid and I think the officers was too, so that’s why he shot him, so we, the daughters, wouldn’t get hurt.”’
Loggins had no criminal record.
One of the daughters told investigators that before Loggins was shot, he had been participating in a religious fast – going for days without food or water. The girl said the fast had led him to act “berserk.”
Loggins' widow filed a wrongful death lawsuit in May, accusing Deputy Sandberg of using excessive force.