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Man Arrested for Attacking Councilmember Part of Legal Revolving Door, Police Say

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By Jorge Casuso

August 7, 2023 -- When Councilmember Phil Brock was attacked on the Promenade on July 16, it marked the third time the suspect was arrested in less than a month, a pattern Santa Monica police say reflects a legal revolving door.

Sawyer Walden Allee -- a 20-year-old homeless man apparently suffering from mental health issues -- was arrested and booked by Santa Monica police for simple battery and grand theft person. He was released from County jail ten days later on his own recognizance.

He will appear in court on a misdemeanor charge filed by the City Attorney's office after the LA County District Attorney declined to prosecute the case, according to police.

"We take him to jail, but our legal system is letting him out again," said Lt. Erika Aklufi, the Police Department spokesperson. "We've decriminalized so many things that there are no consequences.

"If they are not violent, they are being released," Aklufi said. "The end result is this revolving door that happened with this individual."

After his arrest for attacking Brock on the Promenade and stealing his hat, Allee was held for 72 hours for mental health evaluation, according to police ("Councilmember Brock Attacked on The Promenade," July 17, 2023).

The County's Inmate Information Center reports that he was transported to County jail, where he was booked on July 23 and released three days later.

Allee was released under a new set of bail schedules announced on July 18 by the presiding judge of Los Angeles County's court system but widely implemented before they officially take effect on October 1.

The "no cash bail" policy does not require money bail for misdemeanors and non-violent, non-serious felony offenses as a condition for release.

"A low-risk arrestee should not be held in jail simply because they cannot post the necessary funds to be released pending arraignment," said presiding Judge Samantha P. Jessner.

"Instead, the protocols focus on an individual arrestee's risk to public and victim safety and the arrestee's likelihood of returning to court," Jessner said.

That was the case with Allee, who was held on no bail and released from LA County Jail twice after felony arrests made by LAPD in the weeks before his arrest on the Promenade.

The first arrest, for vandalism, was made on June 29.  An LA County Court ordered him released on July 4.

The second arrest, for threats of violence, took place on July 8. He was released four days later after the District Attorney’s office declined to file charges.

While Allee now faces misdemeanor charges filed by the City, the result would be a maximum sentence of 18 days, Aklufi said. But first, he must appear in court.

In the past, those arrested could be held pending a court date and police would provide a ride to court, Aklufi said. That has changed with the new bail schedules.

"If you don't provide transportation to court, they won't go there," Aklufi said. "Now we have a lot of people who we can't keep.

"What do you think are the chances they will have the wherewithal to get to their court date on time? Zero."

During his confrontation with Brock on the Promenade after the Councilmember asked him to stop tearing down posted signs, Allee became belligerent. And he screamed and struggled as officers tried to arrest him.

"The City Councilman wouldn't give me my f---ing money from disability," he yelled in a phone video recorded by Brock's companion. "The Councilman had to walk by while I was going to Hollywood.

"You think I'm crazy, give me crazy person money. A thousand dollars a month. I'm killing that (expletive) Councilmember for his money."

A Venice resident emailed Brock after the attack to tell him he had tracked Allee -- who County jail records say is 6 feet 2 inches tall and weighs 350 pounds -- as he worked his way to the Promenade.

"While in Venice, a witness observed him destroying my garden, uprooting plants and creating chaos," the man wrote.

"He was pepper-sprayed at least once on the Venice Boardwalk by someone who apparently felt threatened.

"It’s my understanding he was sprayed again later in an entirely different incident. LAPD responded and twice declined to intervene.

"Hours later he returned to the Boardwalk and attempted to enter numerous walk-street properties, pulled random property from a truck and took a mail delivery box," the man wrote.

"For nearly ten hours we tried to intervene. You, unfortunately, paid the price."

Aklufi believes putting Allee back on the street may not only endanger others, but shows a lack of concern for his well-being.

"Is that really caring by leaving someone who is homeless and crazy on the street?" she said.

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