Thursday night, I was playing a gig at Aloft Hotel with Curt Yagi and the People Standing Behind Me. We were finishing up our second set when a group of noticeably drunk, foul-mouthed men walked up to play a game of pool next to where we were playing. We tried to make small talk with them, but they didn't seem to be very friendly. After one of them kept loudly spouting profanities, one of the other men advised his friend, "don't get us kicked out."
After we finished our last set, we packed up our equipment and left it where we had been playing and headed to the bar area to enjoy the rest of the evening. The men at the pool table stayed and continued their game. I noticed at one point in the night that a sheriff in uniform had joined the group. "Good," I thought "maybe he's telling them to behave." Nope. He must have been a friend from work. The rest of the guys in the band had gone home for the evening, so only my belongings remained by the pool table. I thought ithey would be safe while I was at the bar, especially with all the security cameras and an officer of the law present.
As my wife and I got up to leave, we noticed that my trumpet, my most important material possession, and my jacket had disappeared. I was so upset. To make a very long story short, I came from a very troubled childhood and that trumpet was solely responsible for me graduating high school and going to college. It is my life and, as a musician and teacher, my very livelihood! The hotel called the police on my behalf. An immediate invstigation revealed that the men at the pool table were local sheriff duputies, one who is on staff in Millbrae. I couldn't believe it. When the reporting officer got to the scene, he said that this was "an embarassment" and "not representative of his organization."
In the time before he reported to the scene, he had already contacted his colleagues who were involved in the incident. They told him that they had thrown the trumpet out of the window of their car somewhere around Taylor and Magnolia Ave. in Millbrae. No word on the jacket. I wonder who the designated driver was, because before they left the hotel, the men seemed rather inebriated. The reporting officer searched the area to no avail. Later on that night, I went looking for it myself and found it in someone's driveway about a block away from where it was reported to have been ditched. I was so relieved. The jacket (a $200 value) was never found, but I'm not too concerned about that.
That night, sheriff deputy Brandon Hatt was arrested on one count of grand theft, a charge punishable by up to three years in prison. He was soon out on a $10,000 bail. The Sheriff’s Office will most likely be reviewing this incident in relation to Hatt’s position, according to District Attorney Karen Guidotti. Not too long ago, Hatt was awarded the medal of bravery by County Sheriff Greg Munks for saving a young man from committing suicide. He was a member of the U.S. Army and had once appeared on MTV's reality show FEAR. It is a shame that he made such a downright stupid decision. Though I am thoroughly upset by this incident, I do feel sorry for the guy. It could have been anybody who enjoyed his/her adult privileges a little too much.
I wonder what is going to happen to the other deputies involved. Deputy Hatt may have been the one to do the deed, but the rest of them apparently just let it happen. Does that make them accessories? I don't wish on anybody that they lose their job and livelihood, but this behavior isn't befitting of an any officer of the law. In the meantime, I was lucky to find a store in Oakland that could rent me a professional model trumpet for the holiday season while my own horn is being held indefinitely as evidence. This is the busiest time of the year for musicians. I don't look forward to it, but I'll be seeing everybody in court on January 28.