San Luis Obispo’s city manager says the actions taken by a city employee during a fight at an Avila Beach bar nearly three years ago are “appalling” and says he shares in the community’s shock.
Derek Johnson’s statement was posted to the City’s website Friday, three days after Chris Olcutt, an inspector for the city, was placed on paid leave.
Olcutt was caught on surveillance camera elbowing a woman in the face and punching a man repeatedly at Mr. Rick’s in May 2016.
He was later charged and went to trial but the jury could not unanimously agree on a verdict.
In February, Olcott pleaded guilty to misdemeanor assault in an effort to avoid another jury trial, which would disrupt his job, according to Olcutt’s attorney, Ilan Funke-Bilu, who adds that the woman’s actions forced Olcutt to defend himself and his client pushed back in self defense.
Johnson says the City had not seen the video until last week. “Immediately after becoming aware of the video, the City placed Mr. Olcutt on administrative leave out of the work place,” the statement reads.
Johnson calls the actions in the video “appalling” and says the City “did not have any detailed understanding of the underlying facts of the case, until the video appeared online.”
Olcutt remained on leave as of Tuesday morning while the internal investigation continues, according to City officials.
“The focus of the investigation will be on Mr. Olcutt’s ability to perform the duties of his job effectively and in the interests of workplace and community safety.”
There is no timeline on when the investigation may be complete.
The City’s full statement is below.
City Manager Statement In Response to Community Inquiries Regarding Employee Incident
This week, a video showing a seemingly unwarranted act of violence by Mr. Christopher Olcott, on two other individuals in May 2016 was released online. The City had not seen the video prior to its publication and did not have any detailed understanding of the underlying facts of the case, until the video appeared online this week. Immediately after becoming aware of the video, the City placed Mr. Olcott on administrative leave out of the work place.
The actions depicted in the video are appalling and we share the community’s shock in this incident. We are committed to a thorough and expeditious review of all available information from the criminal trial and other relevant information to determine whether there is a nexus between the off-duty crime and Mr. Olcott’s employment. The focus of the investigation will be on Mr. Olcott’s ability to perform the duties of his job effectively and in the interests of workplace and community safety.
There have been understandable questions regarding why the City did not take any employment action against Mr. Olcott sooner. It is not the City’s general practice to monitor the private, off-duty activities of its non-sworn employees. Peace Officers are required to report off-duty criminal activities, the City is notified of Department of Motor Vehicle designated violations for all employees who drive City vehicles and we would also be advised of relevant off-duty conduct by employees who work with children.
We hold all employees to a high standard of service and behavior, and we take our obligation to maintain public trust very seriously. All public employees understand that the public has a right to expect that we conduct ourselves in a manner that reflects our community values. Community and workplace safety and the impacts of Mr. Olcott’s conduct on the public’s perception of safety and confidence in the City will be primary considerations in our confidential personnel investigation.