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Marine's daughters held 13 hours after he was shot, attorney says

The girls, ages 14 and 9, were held for questioning and allegedly not allowed to be with their mother after their father was killed by an Orange County sheriff's deputy at San Clemente High.

March 07, 2012|By Christopher Goffard, Los Angeles Times
  • Marine Corps Master Gunnery Sgt. Jay Michael Auwae, right, thanks Rod Rodriguez and other members of the Marine Corps League for their $1,000 donation to a fund for the family of Marine Sgt. Manuel Loggins, who was shot and killed Feb. 7 by an Orange County sheriff's deputy at San Clemente High School. Auwae was Loggins' supervisor at Camp Pendleton.
Marine Corps Master Gunnery Sgt. Jay Michael Auwae, right, thanks Rod Rodriguez… (Don Bartletti / Los Angeles…)

For 13 hours after they watched an Orange County sheriff's deputy fatally shoot their father, the traumatized daughters of Marine Sgt. Manuel Loggins were held for questioning and not allowed to join their mother, according to the lawyer representing the Loggins family.

"They just basically incarcerated them," attorney Brian T. Dunn said Wednesday, one month after the shooting in a darkened parking lot at San Clemente High School.

The accusation is contained in a claim Dunn said he would file Wednesday with the county, giving notice that the Loggins family plans to file a wrongful death suit in Superior Court against the Sheriff's Department and the deputy.

An attorney representing Darren Sandberg, identified as the deputy who shot Loggins, declined comment. The sheriff's union had no comment.

Orange County Sheriff Sandra Hutchens declined to discuss the facts of the case, saying the district attorney's office is investigating.

"Everybody wants answers," she said. "That is what the investigation is for."

The girls, ages 14 and 9, were in the family's sport utility vehicle with their father when the deputy fired into the vehicle before dawn on Feb. 7.

The Sheriff's Department said Loggins had crashed through a gate at the parking lot, walked to a nearby athletic field and then ignored Sandberg's orders not to restart the SUV.

At first, the department said Sandberg fired out of concern for his own safety, but later said Sandberg —a former Marine — feared for the girls' safety. Loggins was unarmed.

The girls were held at the Orange County Sheriff's Department and not allowed to see their mother until 6 p.m. that day, Dunn said, describing the treatment as a form of "false imprisonment."

"They had games for them to play, but they wouldn't let them go," Dunn said. "They probably kept asking them over and over and over what was going on till they got the answer they wanted."

He said Loggins had committed no crime, posed no threat to anyone's life and that Sandberg shot him "multiple times."

The sheriff's union, in early comments, said Loggins had been acting "irrationally," putting his daughters at risk and ultimately setting up his own death.

The shooting has driven a wedge between the Marine Corps and sheriff's deputies in San Clemente, a beach town in south Orange County where both uniforms are a common sight. Camp Pendleton, where Loggins was based, is next to San Clemente, and sheriff's deputies patrol the city's streets.

Dunn said in addition to a wrongful death suit, he would file suit in federal court on the grounds that Loggins' civil rights had been violated.

Friends and Marine colleagues described Loggins, 31, as a body builder and martial arts expert, as well as a devoutly religious man who frequently took his daughters on early morning prayer walks at the high school track.

He left behind three daughters and a pregnant wife, Phoebe, who gave birth to their fourth daughter days ago.

"She's devastated. Her future's been changed in an instant," Dunn said. "She's not doing well."

Critics of the shooting have asked why Sandberg didn't use nonlethal force against Loggins if he perceived a threat. Hutchens declined to comment on whether Sandberg had been carrying a Taser, saying they are optional for her deputies.

"This is, I think, the first fatal shooting we've had in three years, so it's not a frequent event for us," Hutchens said.

The district attorney's office said the investigation could take six months to a year to complete.

christopher.goffard@latimes.com

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