Ex-cop accused of robbing armored cars
Henry K. Lee,
San Francisco Chronicle Staff Writer
August 26, 2009
A former Santa Rosa police officer has been implicated in four armored-car robberies
that netted more than $400,000, authorities said Tuesday.
Robert Starling, 35, of Santa Rosa, who worked for the department in two stints from
2000 to 2006, is accused in two robberies in Santa Rosa and one each in Novato and
A second suspect, Andrew Esslinger, 26, of Santa Rosa was arrested in connection
with the Novato and Sebastopol robberies.
Starling's arrest came as a shock to the Police Department, said Sgt. Lisa Banayat, a
"Any time a former police officer is suspected of committing a crime, I think everyone in
the department has a concern about the reputation of our department," Banayat said...
|San Diego Education Report
Michael Carlson and
atty Deborah K. Garvin
How typical is this arrest? Or this one?
La Mesa police officer helps man trying to get into the home of a woman he had
physically abused. Her friend was handcuffed and the house key was given by Officer
Richards to the owner's abuser. This case sounds remarkably similar to Maura
Ex-Police Chief, 12 Officers Sued by Former San Diego Mayor
Rich Riel, with history of lawsuits, says police illegally hurt him, detained him and searched his
By Ken Stone
Feb. 20, 2012
Al Lanning retired as police chief six months ago, but he along with a dozen officers are being sued
by a one-time San Diego mayor candidate who has labeled La Mesa police “thugs,” “rogue cops”
and “Wambaugh Wannabees” who violated his rights in October 2010.
Rich Riel of Serra Mesa filed a civil rights lawsuit against the city and La Mesa
Police Department on Aug. 1, 2011, alleging battery, false arrest, illegal search
and “unlawful dispossession from real property,” according to court documents
On Friday, an El Cajon Superior Court judge will hear city motions that could force Riel to serve
papers again to defendants. Riel, 64, is a two-time candidate for San Diego mayor (1983 and 1984)
acting as his own attorney. He has been involved in more than three dozen lawsuits in San Diego
County and two criminal cases. He said he is bringing the suit himself “because no lawyer will risk
his time and efforts on a contingency basis. So far I have I have over $1,000 in hard costs for filings,
mailings, copies and research.”
In his original complaint, Riel said he was using a house at 7863 Highwood Ave.
as an office on Oct. 8, 2010, with permission of the female owner, who had
been a victim of domestic violence by a man named John L. Williams.
When Williams came to the Highwood house east of La Mesa Middle School
about 4 p.m. that day intending to break in, Riel kept him out and called
police, he said in the filing.
Police told Williams to leave, Riel said, but Williams returned at 8 p.m. and police were
called again. Then “at least three and possibly more La Mesa police officers arrived at
Highwood,” Riel said in his complaint.
“The police officer in charge of this meeting identified himself as Sgt. Richards. Riel
attempted to make a citizens’ arrest on Williams for trespass, but Sgt.
Richards refused to arrest Williams for any crimes including driving on a
Instead, the officer later identified as Bret Richards told Riel that he wanted to search
the house, Riel said. And when Riel asked Richards if he had a search warrant,
“Richards said he did not need a search warrant to go into the Highwood house,”
according to the complaint.
Riel said the officer was wrong and locked the door behind him, but “Sgt. Richards
tricked Riel into unlocking the door and stepping outside to allow two La Mesa police
officers to come up from behind Riel, grabbing his arms, [holding] them behind him and
then handcuffing him,” the complaint says.
Riel says he was taken from the porch in handcuffs and placed in the back
seat of a police cruiser.
While Riel was locked inside the cruiser, “Richards and other La Mesa police officers
without permission or legal authority conducted an illegal search” of the house, said
Riel said he asked to call his lawyer, but Richards refused.
“At the end of the hour, Riel was released from the cruiser, the handcuffs were
removed and his house key was given to Williams,” he said in the complaint.