A jury awarded $750,000 to a door- to-door salesman who was held at gunpoint by off-duty police Officer Sam De Sylva while soliciting in the officer’s neighborhood.
The salesman was arrested, but prosecutors declined to file any charges against him.
The Pasadena Police Officers Association (PPOA) has said the organization, as well as Chief John Perez, stand firmly behind the officer and don’t believe he did anything wrong.
David Llanes, treasurer of PPOA, issued the following statement last week on behalf of the association and its entire membership in response to an online article published last week on Pasadena Now:
“Many of us have been victims of eager, unprofessional, rude and overly aggressive solicitors, who come to our doors uninvited and continue to push their wares even after being asked to leave. The majority of solicitors are hardworking individuals trying to make a living. But, there are also those who have nefarious intentions. Criminal groups casing homes to see who is home and what may be inside as you are distracted by their so-called, ‘sales pitch’ is a common occurrence. Several published news articles describe this crime trend.
“Could this possibly be the reason Officer De Sylva’s wife was suspicious of a stranger who came to her door at almost 6 p.m. on a dark January night? A stranger who refused to leave after several requests to do so? With two young children at her side and her husband unavailable at the moment, was it unreasonable for the spouse of a police officer to be scared – knowing her husband faces an untold number of daily threats at home and work?
An unbiased attempt to print a quality piece of news would have asked and made a diligent effort to answer these questions. Instead, we were appalled and mortified to read about a perceived race issue and a perceived unjustified use of force. We are unable to question the article’s author directly because there is no by-line. We have no idea who wrote this piece or what their true motivations are. Pasadena Now can do better.
“Corporal Sam De Sylva is a 17-year veteran of the Pasadena Police Department. Sam’s highly distinguished career includes service in the following assignments: patrol, traffic, bike patrol, technical services, coordinator of the field training program and community services. He is currently assigned to the Office of the Chief as the policies and risk management auditor. His accomplishments include being the former president of the PPOA. A devoted family man, Sam has also volunteered numerous hours to our community and the City of Pasadena.
“The members of the Pasadena Police Officers Association stand in support of Corporal Sam De Sylva and await the outcome of due process. We have spoken with Chief Perez. The chief is in full support of Corporal De Sylva and found these allegations to be without merit. We are confident the truth will prevail.”
The jury reportedly deliberated for two hours before finding the officer liable.