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Woman punched by SLO City employee at Avila Beach bar seeks restitution

Posted at 5:35 PM, Jun 20, 2019
and last updated 2019-06-20 21:27:30-04

A Thursday restitution hearing between a San Luis Obispo City employee and the woman he assaulted in 2016 was continued after the woman’s attorney said more time is needed to calculate the costs of her medical issues related to the assault.

Chris Olcott, a city building inspector, was placed on leave April 16, nearly three years after he was seen on surveillance video striking a woman at Mr. Rick’s bar in Avila Beach.

The encounter led to criminal charges against Olcott but a jury could not reach a unanimous verdict on the case when it went to trial. He ultimately pleaded guilty to a misdmeanor assault and was ordered to spend 60 days in jail.

An attorney for Camille Chavez, the woman who was knocked unconscious by a blow from Olcott’s elbow, said she suffers ongoing medical issues due to the assault and argues she is entitled to restitution.

Olcott did not appear in court Thursday and the new restitution hearing has been rescheduled for Aug. 22.

Since he was placed on leave over two months ago, Olcott has been paid $11,821.50, according to the city attorney’s office.

Human Resources Director Monica Irons said the city has used contract inspectors to cover inspections during peak workload times to ensure there’s no change in the city’s ability to provide service to customers in Olcott’s absence.

Attorney Dave Fleishman, who has investigated other matters for the City of San Luis Obispo in the past, was hired to investigate Olcott’s case.

The city attorney’s office reported Fleishman has billed $1,995 through the end of May with work continuing through June.

Fleishman declined to comment on his investigation but said Thursday he anticipates completing his review by the end of next week.

The surveillance video depicts Olcott standing next to Chavez and Isaac McCormack at the bar of Mr. Rick’s.
After a series of nudges between the two, Olcott hits the woman in the head with his elbow, knocking her out.

Olcott is then seen striking McCormack.

Ilan Funk-Bilu, the attorney representing Olcott, said earlier that his client was defending himself from Chavez.

“If you look at the video carefully, there were seven separate physical invasions of my client before my client pushed back in self-defense,” Funke-Bilu said earlier.

Documents newly obtained by KSBY through a records request show emails sent to city council members and the mayor by community members who are outraged that Olcott was not fired.

The first email was sent April 15, one day before Olcott was placed on leave.

“Please tell me you are no longer employing someone like this… To go into people homes,” said the first email in a chain of several correspondences that call for Olcott’s termination.

San Luis Obispo Mayor Heidi Harmon forwarded to City Attorney Derek Johnson a profanity-laden email she received about the issue.

She simply wrote, “yikes.”

Harmon did not immediately respond to requests Thursday for comment.

Johnson directed the mayor and council members to share an official statement on the matter April 16:

“The City had not seen the video and did not have any detailed understanding of the underlying facts of the case until the video appeared online.  Obviously, the actions depicted in the video are appalling and, combined with the guilty plea, warrant follow up to evaluate whether there is a nexus with the employee’s ability to perform his job duties effectively and in the interests of workplace and community safety, which are the City’s priorities. As soon as the City became aware of the violent and seemingly unprovoked nature of the crime, the City took immediate action and placed the employee on administrative leave.”

RELATED: SLO City employee on paid leave 3 years after bar assault