San Diego County has settled a civil rights lawsuit that was filed after a sheriff's deputy pepper-sprayed guests at a fundraiser for a congressional candidate.
The settlement was reported Monday by the San Diego Union-Tribune. Details weren't immediately released. The lawsuit was filed by three women who attended a June 2009 fundraiser in Cardiff-by-the-Sea for congressional candidate Francine Busby.
Investigators responded to noise complaints at the home in Cardiff-by-the-Sea where Shari Barman, 60, was holding a fundraiser for Busby, one of two Democrats seeking to replace Republican incumbent Brian Bilbray.
A representative of Busby's released a statement in the days following the incident, calling it a “quiet private party” in support of Busby’s campaign for Congress. The statement said there was no music, entertainment or rowdy behavior on the part of the mostly middle-aged guests.
“As Busby spoke to the attendees, a man was heard shouting from behind a wooded area,” Busby spokesman Mike Kreizenbeck said in June. “His obscenity-laced tirade against Democrats and Francine Busby included a number of threats.”
A sheriff’s deputy entered the home at about 9:30 p.m. and asked to speak with the homeowner. A deputy asked for Barman's date of birth so he could file paperwork alerting the city to the noise complaints but Barman refused, Sgt. Chuck Yancey told the San Diego Union-Tribune.
When the officer tried to arrest Barman, a crowd of about 30 to 50 partygoers surrounded her and were able to separate her from the deputy, Yancey told the paper. Deputies dispersed pepper spray on the crowd and the deputy arrested Barman after she punched him, Yancey said.
“When the homeowner asked the deputy sheriff why he needed her date of birth, the deputy reacted by restraining the homeowner and throwing her to the ground,” Kreizenbeck said. “Alarmed guests pleaded with the deputy to let the 60-year-old homeowner go and stop hurting her.”
Barman and Morgan were arrested. Barman spent the night in jail. Neither woman was charged with a crime.
Busby said the incident was regrettable because it was avoidable and unnecessary.