Mike Eliason / SBCOFD
Originally published December 3, 2017 at 10:28a.m., updated December 4, 2017 at 09:46a.m.
It was like spring break gone wrong.
The social-media-fueled Isla Vista street party replete with floats and bathing suits one Saturday in April 2014 took a dark turn. By about 9 p.m., authorities said, out-of-control young people chucked beer bottles, bricks, and rocks directly at police officers. More than 100 deputies were brought in from other areas. Police shut down the neighborhood and declared a civil disturbance. It became known as the Deltopia riots.
The following Tuesday, when Sheriff Bill Brown spoke before the Board of Supervisors about the incident, he said a 17-year-old man from Los Angeles swung a backpack stuffed with liquor bottles at a UCSB police officer’s face, knocked him to the ground, and cut him above the eyebrow. Because of the seriousness of the alleged crime, District Attorney Joyce Dudley decided to charge him as an adult in criminal court. She initially charged him with three felonies, including mayhem, resisting arrest, and assault with a deadly weapon on a peace officer.
So what ever happened to the young man who was essentially charged by authorities for turning the crowd “unruly”?
The short answer is that we don’t know.
The case against Desmond Edwards proceeded in criminal court for three years but was transferred to juvenile court after new state law — Proposition 57 — prohibited prosecutors from trying minors as adults in criminal court unless allowed by a judge.
Dudley confirmed Edwards’s case was adjudicated. But juvenile records are sealed, so his sentence is not public, she said. Dudley explained in an email she initially decided to try the case in adult criminal court because of “the facts and circumstances around the alleged incident where a police officer was seriously injured” and because Edwards was just a couple of months shy of his 18th birthday.
During an adult court hearing in June 2014, Sheriff’s deputies testified that Edwards ran from police officers, who yelled at him, “Stop!” after watching a fight break out. UC Santa Barbara police officer Antonio Magaña tried to physically detain Edwards twice. The second time, Edwards allegedly threw an eight-pound backpack with a half-full 1.75-liter bottle of rum at the officer.
The case was transferred to juvenile court in June 2017, said Kevin Weichbrod, a deputy district attorney. The case was held up by the fact that Magaña was enmeshed in his own criminal problems — a DUI in July 2015. The case went to trial, and a jury found Magaña guilty in January 2017. He was fired from his job at UCPD.
In court in 2014, public defender Mindi Boulet questioned whether or not Edwards had thrown the backpack at Magaña because that detail was left out of the original police report.
A medic who testified in adult criminal court said Magaña required 30 stitches to close his wounds. Many details of the incident remain unclear because the case was moved to juvenile court. Efforts to contact Edwards and his defense attorney were unsuccessful.
The three subsequent Deltopias have seen a significant decrease in partygoers and arrests after the Sheriff’s Office ramped up law enforcement resources on that day and the university provided alternative fun.