Police have arrested five activists and charged them with throwing pigs blood on a house once occupied by a police officer who supported Derek Chauvin – but this, it appears, will not be an ordinary vandalism case.
Three of the five already have lined up prominent defense lawyers, including the legendary Tony Serra, and they argue that their clients are innocent and the damage was the work of an agent provocateur.
“They have no evidence that my client did anything with a pig’s head and pig’s blood,” Serra, who is representing Rowan Dalby, told me. “These are innocent people.”
According to the Santa Rosa police, Dalby, Amber Lucas, and Kristen Aumoithe spread the blood on the house April 14 and also vandalized a statue. They were arrested May 11.
Former officer Barry Brodd used to live in the house, but hasn’t been in Santa Rosa for several years.
Brodd was a key witnesses for Chauvin, who was convicted of murdering George Floyd. On the stand, Brodd said that Chauvin had done nothing wrong.
Sergeant Christopher Mahurin, spokesperson for the Santa Rosa PD, told me that the arrests came after search warrants were served on several residences. I asked him if there was camera footage or other evidence, and what the searches turned up, but he said the case was still under investigation and “we aren’t providing a lot of other information at this point.”
Two others, Christina Henry and Colin Metcalfe, were also arrested this week.
Serra told me that his client, a prominent Black Lives Matter activist, was “targeted because of her ideology.”
I asked him if he was aware of any video footage, and he said: “Not to our knowledge. … they would normally release that if they had it. We are accusing them of malicious prosecution.”
Barrientos said he agreed with Serra: “The evidence will show this is the work of an agent provocateur,” he said in a press statement.
Figueroa said his client is innocent and a community leader: “Amber Lucas is a well-respected wine influencer and social justice activist who sits on the Commission on the Status of Women for Sonoma County.”
I don’t know yet who is representing the other two people.
Typically this type of case might be settled with a plea bargain; nobody was injured and the blood was easily washed away.
But it appears at least three of the people facing charges are prepared to turn this into a political trial.