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LAGUNA BEACH : City Rejects Claim Over Fight at Beach

Orange County Focus

October 24, 1991|LESLIE ERNEST

A $1-million claim by a youth who says he was choked and pushed to the ground by an off-duty beach patrol officer has been unanimously rejected by the City Council.

The claim, filed by Tyler Barnett, 16, also alleges that another officer who stopped at the scene failed to take his complaint or interview witnesses.

But Police Chief Neil J. Purcell Jr. said the department investigated the incident and submitted a report to the district attorney's office, which chose not to file charges.

Purcell said Barnett and the beach patrol officer, Fraser Elfman, 23, had conflicting stories about who started the shoving.

Since Elfman was off duty at the time, the dispute was treated as a private matter, Purcell said.

"As far as we're concerned, this is a non-job-related incident," he said. "It's a private incident between (Elfman) and Mr. Barnett."

The alleged incident occurred July 19, when Barnett and a group of friends sitting at a street corner saw a child chase a cat into the street, causing a motorist to stop and shout at the child, Barnett said.

Within a couple of minutes, Elfman arrived and the altercation began, Barnett said. The motorist ended up breaking up the fight, he said.

Barnett then flagged down a passing police officer. He said he emerged from the dispute with a ripped shirt and marks on his throat but did not seek medical treatment.

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