Darren Sandberg: Questions Surround I.D.'ing Deputy Who Fatally Shot Marine Sergeant

Here is something OC Weekly investigative reporters are used to: they break a story involving Orange County government, the district attorney or the sheriff's department, and the targeted agency later confirms those facts--in the Orange County Register.

After Patch.com reported Darren Sandberg was the deputy who shot and killed a beloved U.S. Marine in San Clemente on Feb. 7, Sheriff Sandra Hutchens later authorized confirming that in the Register.

To Register reporter Tony Saavedra's credit, he identified and linked to Patch Sunday as originally reporting Sandberg was the shooter. Saavedra's colleague Salvador Hernandez failed to do either Friday night. By Saturday, the scoop was attributed in Hernandez's piece to "a local news website," then it was changed to "San Clemente Patch" for a bit before finally becoming what's up now: "a news website."

Unfortunately for Weekly investigative reporters, they receive the Hernandez treatment far more often than the Saavedra treatment.

R.I.P.: Sgt. Manuel "Manny" Levi Loggins, Jr.
Saavedra was making the larger point that Hutchens should have identified Sandberg because it was the right (and legally protected) thing to do. Instead, Patch forced her hand.

"Why did she wait until she was backed into a corner?" Saavedra writes. "If there were good arguments for withholding the name, didn't they still exist after Patch pulled the trigger?"

Not that Saavedra actually named Roy Rivenburg and Adam Townsend as the Patch reporters who beat the Register, of course. That would be crazy!

Speaking of drinking the Kool-Aid, Hernandez spent much ink piling on the platitudes for the deputy who has been on paid leave since the shooting.

"Sandberg served four years in the Marine Corps and has worked in the Sheriff's Department for 15 years, earning two departmental honors," Hernandez writes at one point.


"In April 2005, Sandberg, fellow Deputy James Christian and officer Marie Chasco were awarded a Medal of Courage for saving a man who was caught in a burning car. Also in 2005, Sandberg was recognized for work finding and detaining drivers under the influence by Mothers Against Drunk Driving, along with three other deputies.

"In 1997, Sandberg and fellow Deputy Todd Russ were recognized for performing CPR on an elderly heart-attack victim who later died."

Hernandez goes on to detail a San Clemente Mission Viejo councilwoman's positive interactions with Sandberg when he served as sergeant-at-arms during council meetings.

In the early morning hours of Feb. 7, Sandberg shot and killed Sgt. Manuel "Manny" Levi Loggins Jr. near San Clemente High School, while the decorated Marine's two daughters were in the back of his SUV. While details and the motivation for the shooting changed in the days after the incident, the sheriff's department and deputies union seems to be sticking with this version currently: Sandberg shot an erratic Loggins to protect the girls.

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Darren is a stand up police officer. He also is a US Marine (honorably discharged) who served as an 0300 series infantry Marine. Darren uses common sense and good judgement and if the suspect needed put down, the he needed put down. Darren has always been the one who does the right thing, at the right time, even while no one is looking.

Auditor3030 like.author.displayName 1 Like

I knew Loggins.  The stories aren't adding up here....

Book Em Dano
Book Em Dano

People dont believe any version the OCDA shooting team or the OCSD puts out in press. There is so much corruption in both departments with a long history of false stories, cover ups, criminal activity in both departments who knows what to believe!

Screw this Deputy just being on leave for this obvious screwed up shooting he should have been arrested and booked on ADW or 187 PC under color of authority!!!

If he was anyone else he would have been booked and be in the OCJ with at least a 250 thousand dollar bail hanging over his head.

This is a bad shooting anyway you slice it. The suspect was not 417 (man with a gun) was not 10-32 outstanding warrants and was with his children for god sake.

Folks just stop and think about all the problems in the past 2 years alone with OC Law Enforcement and the OCDA Alone!!! Its one damn dirty scandal after another and they mount daily. These are the same folks that go out and arrest you and I and than get on the stand and testify against us!!!

There are some damn serious problems in OC Law Enforcement and someone better damn well figure out why there is so much corruption in rank and file!

This Deputy needs to be booked and incarcerated and the OCDA and the Sheriff needs to be thrown out on their ass for coruption. Remember folks whether they wear a uniform or not they are accountable and not above the law

John Smith
John Smith

Wait a minute: a man is shot to death in front of his kids and this article focuses on the inside-baseball who-got-the-guy's-name-first angle?

You must be joking -- did the Patch reporters put you up to this?  Are they that desperate for recognition?

Matthew T. Coker
Matthew T. Coker

 John, this is called a "follow-up" to a story we (and everyone else) previously covered. Or would you prefer we keep reporting the same thing over and over and leave out anything new? That's why God invented TV news. No one from Patch puts me up to anything, but one reporter did thank me for the post. Thanks for the comment.

Alex Scott
Alex Scott

Beloved Marine perhaps.  But what was he doing with his daughters in the early morning hours crashing through gates?  Kinda odd.  There is mkore to this story on BOTH sides.

Mel J
Mel J

Yeppers a white bald headed jewish cop killing a black man.

Beachcitiesoc like.author.displayName 1 Like

Why do cops get special recognition for preforming CPR on an elderly heat attack victim?  Paramedics and hospital personnel do that every day and they don't get medals or special commendations.   

Bob Delpino
Bob Delpino

Sounds like this is a cop that shouldhave only been allowed to work at those city council meetings.  If he werea fully capable police officer, he would not have killed a Marine.  Lookslike another white cop killing someone of color because he thought he could getaway with it.

I get the feeling that this will turnout like that Oakland BART shooting where the officer shot the person for noreason.

Is it all about you?
Is it all about you?

You reporters need to dismount from your high horses. This is not about "who's on first". We have 2 families here whose lives have been shattered.


Oh, so we really dont know exactly why the trigger was pulled? Other than to protect the man's own children? What am I missing here? Isnt shooting at a man who has his kids in the car endangering them? Not like a cop cant miss a target could he?

Alex Scott
Alex Scott

Whatcha think?  Maybe he was there to kill his kids then himself.  At O-dark-thirty in the AM?  Would like to hear what the kid's mom have to say.

ArmyTeach like.author.displayName like.author.displayName 2 Like

 I suggest you do your research first. According to all who knew him, Loggins was a quiet spoken model marine, a devout church man, was never deployed, was an admin NCO. He was respected and trusted by his officers and was a mentor to young Marines. He was a devout church man and father to three girls with another arriving after his death. He reported to work at 6:00 am, and often worked a 10 to 16  hour day. Making time to spend with the girls, he frequently took them for early morning walks at the high school track where they read discussed the Bible. My guess. I'm sure he was upset after hitting the gate which was usually open, wondered why it was locked, and went to see if anyone was on the track.I suspect that the girls were 'screaming' for their Dad because there was a policeman with a gun.

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