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

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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.

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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.

Later:

"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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