DA Decides Not to Prosecute in Vandalism Case

(Charleen Earley, Photographer)
Robert Brock, with wife Jessica Brock, appeared at the Superior Court in Martinez on Feb. 21. Brock was arrested for felony vandalism of an Orinda Police car on Jan. 27, based on a statement from the Orinda Police Department. Brock’s name was not on the docket and he received a letter in the mail dated Feb. 24, stating “A review of our records shows no criminal complaint was issued against the above-noted individual based on the incident described in the Contra Costa County Sheriff’s Department ... the [statute] of limitations has not yet passed, so this case could still be filed.”

    “It wasn’t me, I didn’t vandalize a police car,” Robert Brock said he repeatedly told Orinda police officers on Jan. 27, the day he was arrested with a felony charge of vandalizing a police vehicle parked in the Orinda BevMo! lot.
    Arrested and handcuffed, Brock was processed at the Martinez Detention Center where photos and fingerprints were taken, clothes removed and his cellphone held for evidence. His laptop was previously confiscated during questioning with Brock’s consent.
    The Orinda Police Department (OPD) filed their investigation results on Feb. 16 to the District Attorney’s (D.A.) Office. On Feb 24, Public Information Officer to the D.A., Ted Asregadoo, informed The Orinda News with the following:
    “I spoke with one of our felony filers today about this case. After reviewing the referral by Orinda Police, the D.A.’s Office determined that there was insufficient evidence in the PC594(a)(1) felony charge to prove beyond a reasonable doubt in a trial that Mr. Brock, Jr. was guilty of vandalizing and defacing an unmarked Orinda Police vehicle.”
    Exactly what evidence the arrest was based upon and the strength of that evidence remain open questions. Multiple requests to the OPD and the Contra Costa County Office of the Sheriff to glean details of the evidence leading to Brock’s arrest have yielded no information.
    “As stated in an earlier email, the Contra Costa County Office of the Sheriff is not providing any digital photos (or videos), copies of evidence, or police reports to you,” wrote Director of Public Affairs, Jimmy Lee. “They are investigative records and are exempt under the Public Records Act.”
    Brock and his wife, Jessica, estimate expenses incurred due to the arrest have cost them more than $2,500 to date, including bail, impoundment fees for their van, emergency housing and lost wages from missed work.
    “It has taken almost all of our savings to post bail and get all of our belongings back,” said Brock. “It’s scary to think you could be completely innocent of a crime, but still have to pay for it.”
    Brock returned to his five-year job as a manager at the True Value Orinda Hardware store a day after his wife posted his bail. The couple live in a van due to an eviction in 2019 in Sacramento, the result of a miscommunication with their landlord according to the Brocks.
    The Brocks said they feel somewhat relieved that the D.A. decided not to prosecute, but also said their life is not back to normal.
    “I’m relieved, because it means it’s [prosecution] not going to be hanging over us, however, it also feels like … that’s it?” said Jessica, who started a fundraiser to recoup their lost funds at https://gofund.me/bf36562c. “I have nightmares of losing my husband. I mean, if we hadn’t had savings, he would have been stuck in jail for weeks – that’s still a scary thought. What if it happens again and we don’t have the money?”
    Brock is haunted by his recent experiences.
    “When they finally released me from jail at 12:05 a.m., I had nothing. No clothes, no shoes, no phone, they towed the van that we live in and took my laptop for evidence,” said Brock. “The entire process was devastating and heartbreaking. We are just trying to do the best we can and to be good to people.”

Charleen Earley can be reached at editor@theorindanews.com.

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