News

No charges in case of Tri-Valley man beaten outside his home

DA cites 'lack of sufficient evidence;' police close investigation

No charges will be filed against the teens involved in an altercation that left a Pleasanton man bleeding and unconscious outside his Middleton Place home last September.

"The Alameda County District Attorney has chosen not to pursue criminal charges citing lack of sufficient evidence to conclude a public offense was committed," Pleasanton police said Friday.

David Lamont was struck outside his home early Sept. 21 after confronting noisy teens in the quiet cul-de-sac where he lived. He was found lying in the street, bleeding and comatose, when he didn't return inside following the altercation.

Lamont was moved to a rehab center after a lengthy stay at Eden Medical Center in Castro Valley. He continues what a family friend described as a long period of rehabilitation, learning to talk and walk again.

In the weeks that followed, police said they had "credible leads" and narrowed the investigation to three local teens -- "people who are high school age," police Sgt. Maria Munayer said early in the investigation. One, an 18-year-old from outside the area, was described as a "person of interest."

During the investigation, Pleasanton police detectives worked in collaboration with the DA's Office and kept them informed of developments and leads in the case.

Friday, police said, "the case has been closed and no further investigation is pending."

Last month, Lamont's wife, Agnes, talked about the family's ordeal in an open letter.

"Dave was left for dead but thanks to a wonderful miracle and outstanding medical care, he is now on a journey towards significant recovery," she said in an email statement. "Multiple surgeries and intense rehabilitation have taken their toll but Dave's innate strength and extraordinary work ethic are propelling him through important milestones like breathing independently, relearning to walk, and being able to swallow again."

She also thanked the people who donated to the family in a fundraising effort initiated by Craig Mullins. To date, more than $24,000 has been raised.

"The Lamont family has requested that no further media attention be given to the case and that they not be contacted for comment as they would simply like to put the incident behind them and continue to focus on healing," police said Friday.

Comments

Posted by Tracy, a resident of Alamo
on Feb 10, 2014 at 6:55 am

Is it just me or does the resolution seem strange? The whole thing is over and no one is in trouble? Just going to put it behind them?

I know it takes an incredible amount of energy to deal with and care for someone who almost lost their life, but can you really move forward, knowing that those kids are out there and know what they've done? I guess you can only hope that a guilty conscience will eat away at those kids forever. Even if they didn't deliver the blow, they know who did. Being witnesses and not doing anything makes them just as guilty.


Posted by Louisa, a resident of Danville
on Feb 10, 2014 at 7:01 am

What an outrageous! A man gets beaten, nearly dies from his injuries and no charges are filed in the case? There is something terribly wrong with our justice system when those individuals responsible walk away free. Insufficient evidence to conclude a public offense was committed? The man nearly died!! Ridiculous!!! Sounds like a cover up and another example of "affluenza".


Posted by TKP, a resident of Blackhawk
on Feb 10, 2014 at 8:07 am

I understand that they cannot press charges with insufficient evidence. What I have a problem with is that they are closing the case with no further investigation. What an injustice to this family.


Posted by Louise, a resident of Danville
on Feb 10, 2014 at 9:19 am

It is sad and incredible to hear the results. It looks like those involved all are keeping quiet and there were not enough or no witnesses. Many crimes go unsolved and the victims and families are left to put their lives back together. Society as a whole suffers. We still have those criminals out there. They might do it again. How can they live with themselves you ask? Well, like many violent people, they don't care and are such sociopaths they have no feelings or compassion for others. We can thank mainstream media and the violence in movies and television and the parents who allow their kids to buy and watch violent video games too. Kids think it is ok.


Posted by Derek, a resident of Danville
on Feb 10, 2014 at 12:33 pm

A number of articles both here and in local print newspapers have lead me to one inescapable conclusion: that we have very, very lazy district attorneys in Contra Costa county.

This story just encourages the gun nuts, and I'm not sure I could blame them. The next David Lamont may chose a different means of confrontation, and then what will our hard working D.A. do? Prosecute the victim, no doubt.

The parents of this POS, who almost got away with murder, don't know how lucky they are to have their little demon spawn still walking the earth.


Posted by Q.T. Downlowe, a resident of Danville
on Feb 10, 2014 at 1:37 pm

(Psssstt, Derek: Pleasanton isn't in CoCoCo.)


Posted by Huh?, a resident of Danville
on Feb 10, 2014 at 1:54 pm

Given the enthusiasm with which the local posters tried, convicted and were ready to lynch the teens involved in this altercation when this first arose, I guess I shouldn't be surprised at the lack of perception being demonstrated now.

Look, folks: we weren't there. And just because the man lost the fight doesn't mean the other people committed a crime. (This is the part you folks seem to have a tough time grasping.) He went out to confront some kids who were (apparently) within their rights to be where they were and to be doing what they were doing. I'm guessing he didn't go out in a friendly state of mind. I've seen confrontations like this before, and the young people involved are not always in the wrong. The "known facts" are every bit as consistent with a lucky punch thrown by a kid in self-defense as they are with a "brutal beating" which the local media - who weren't there either - have gratuitously labeled it.

The theory that "everybody is keeping quiet" is foolish. Have you ever met a teenager? The individuals involved are known; some were apparently eliminated as suspects early on. The police have interviewed them all. I'm sure they've talked to their friends, and looked at their Facebook pages, etc. There are no secrets in modern America; certainly not among teenagers. The fact that the investigation is "closed" strongly suggests that the police in fact have gotten a pretty thorough picture of what actually happened (unlike the posters on this site) and have concluded that no crime was committed by the teens. I know you've all decided differently, but you're just pulling opinions out of your body parts and it's actually their job to get it right.

The outcome is tragic. My heart goes out to the LaMont family, who have a difficult road ahead. But they won't be helped by the attitude of the likes of Derek, above, who has decided that he doesn't need to have been there to know what "really" happened, who is "demon spawn" and who is a victim, and roots for the next guy who's ticked off at some teenagers for being too rowdy for his tastes to take a gun and shoot them.

Derek is the problem. Not rowdy teens. Most of the teens will grow up to be responsible adults. Apparently Derek never will.


Posted by spcwt, a resident of Danville
on Feb 11, 2014 at 2:32 pm

Sounds fishy.

If you got beat up and left for dead, wouldn't you want to find whoever did it and bring them to justice? Wouldn't you want them in jail so it didn't happen to someone else?

Wouldn't you be outraged if the police gave up on the case?

Crime victims typically don't ask that, "no further media attention be given to the case." And they don't ask that they, "not be contacted for comment" about the case, as the Lamonts have.

Most crime victims are mad and want to be heard. And they are outraged when they don't get justice.

If I had to guess what happened, I'd say Lamont went outside to quiet down those little yappers and those little yappers fought back in self-defense. The police probably concluded that Lamont was just as much at fault as the yappers and decided not to charge anyone.


Posted by Derek, a resident of Danville
on Feb 11, 2014 at 6:13 pm

It is people like you Huh, that continue to give liberals a bad name. You have been on these boards as chief apologist for the assailant, a person who was more than old enough (if not 18) to know that he had knocked a person out cold.

If you had to "guess" spcwt, and thought about it a bit longer, you might come to a very different conclusion - that "lack of sufficient evidence" does not translate to "David Lamont took the first swing". What it more likely means is that he suffered severe enough brain damage to not remember what had happened. Do you understand his medical condition? I ask because it appears from your post that you are unclear what a coma is.

You, and ongoing apologist Huh, keep ignoring the fact that if your version - or possible version - of events was as you imagine, that the teens should have stayed put or turned themselves in later. They could have told the police what happened if Lamont was aggressive.

I had a very serious, ugly altercation with one of my parent's neighbors my first year of college. I did not run away like a little b!+c#. I confronted the police, told them what happened, and that was the end of it. The cops were uninclined to side with the neighbor due the reek of alcohol on his breath and his belligerent attitude. If this was the case with Lamont, why not face the music? If the teens were scared at the moment and left the scene, that might be understandable, but why not come forward later?

It's very easy to constantly paint people as reactionary or racist if that's what you chose to do Huh. When someone opposes development, they must be automatically anti-senior citizen or anti-minority or self entitled. Never mind any valid concerns. You have never offered any reasonable theory as to why these poor, misunderstood teens failed to do the right thing. I am fine with you stating the facts: that we don't know what happened. I am not fine with this constant whitewashing of the circumstances following the event.

My point is simple here, but let me repeat it since English is apparently not the first language for some of you: I don't like guns and I don't like gun nuts. But when people read an article about a man left to die in a gutter, someone on the fence about gun ownership might be pushed over the edge. We don't need more George Zimmermans. Or Rick Pshaws. Better for law enforcement to either pursue, or let us know why they didn't. They work for us, I pay their salary, and this is the right thing to do.

My fault on the Contra Costa/Alameda confusion, but there have been a lot of stories from the Tri-Valley since we moved here in 2005 where very serious crimes were left on the table by the local D.A's.


Posted by Peter Kluget, FKA Huh?, a resident of Danville
on Feb 11, 2014 at 8:41 pm

Derek, apparently you've forgotten (or never read) the stories written in the aftermath of this event which reported that the local teens present at the altercation all met with the police in the following days and voluntarily participated in the investigation. For example, this story, which ran less than a week after the altercation:
"Police said three Pleasanton teens were present during the assault and are considered witnesses at this time.
An 18-year-old who was present during the assault has been identified as a person of interest, but has not yet been arrested.
He does not reside in the area and is not currently in Pleasanton, according to police.
Police said all four individuals have met with police and are cooperating with the investigation."
Web Link

You don't seem to be able to get past the media's irresponsible description of the event as a "brutal" or "vicious" "beating." There has never been anything about the injuries Mr. LaMont suffered to justify that characterization in the absence of more information. What happened to him is not at all unprecedented. There was a similar case a few years ago involving a San Ramon man: Web Link And the recent Alamo case has its similarities as well. (In my opinion the local media - particularly the TV stations - have been incredibly irresponsible in their reporting of this incident.) When a person falls down and hits their head on hard pavement, serious injuries can occur.

Bottom line: there is no reason to argue with the decision made by the authorities other than opinion based on nothing more than the media's "if it bleeds it leads" hype. There was a confrontation - started by Mr. LaMont. It got physical. He was punched in the face, and fell, hitting his head on the pavement causing a brain injury. It's a tragic outcome, but not one which necessarily requires the conclusion that anyone else there was "brutal" or "vicious" or gave him a "beating."

That's why I'm so harsh on you, Derek. Your kind of evidence-free rush to judgment, leaping to conclusions and damning people without sufficient evidence is poisonous. What's worse, you made me agree with spcwt for the second time in less than two weeks.


Posted by Diane, a resident of Danville
on Feb 12, 2014 at 8:20 am

Given the intense and prolonged nature of recovery from brain trauma and the toll it takes on the patient and family, I would be inclined to spend my limited resouces on assisting my spouse with recovery rather than pursuing a case against teens that law enforcement professionals have dropped. Judging this family as not acting in a reasonable manner and second guessing their decision to concentrate on recovery rather than persecution is unfair.


Posted by Peter Kluget, a resident of Danville
on Feb 12, 2014 at 10:08 am

Dianne, I agree that it's unfair to "judge" the family. The outcome of this event is tragic and they are entitled to sympathy.

But spcwt's comment is not entirely inappropriate. Given that the police have officially "closed" the investigation - not merely suspended it - the family's position of not merely "no comment" but an affirmative request that no media attention be given to their tragedy is consistent with a recognition that the overblown characterization of this event as a "brutal" "vicious" "beating" was not, in fact, accurate and that the reality of the situation was, at the least, more nuanced than that. They have friends and neighbors who would be happy to pick up the torch (heck, based on the comments here, there are complete stranger who would be happy to lead the lynch mob) but there are pretty simple reasons that would make them not want to do that. And the simplest explanation is that the family recognizes that Mr. LaMont was not the innocent victim of a "vicious beating" but in fact had some degree of responsibility for the events which resulted in his being injured.

Those injuries are a tragic and disproportionate consequence of whatever happened, but it's not unreasonable to interpret the family's position as a tacit acknowledgment that the media characterization of the events - which have been picked up and uncritically trumpeted by posters here - was off base.


Posted by Diane, a resident of Danville
on Feb 13, 2014 at 9:59 am

@ Peter, I appreciate your position. My response was as a family member of someone with a severe head trauma (car accident - not a beating), and the toll it continues to take on our family over 4 years later. This has been overwhelming in terms of time and emotional energy expenditure, and I know we would have also made the choice to concentrate on recovery over prosecution, if we knew who caused the accident (never identified).

I don't know the detials of this particular case in terms of how involved the victim was regarding the events that lead to the beating, and I'm not sure anyone else does either. I do feel he was clearly outnumbered and a victim nevertheless, and I draw the line at blaming the victim for their circumstance, and judging the family for their response.

Just my 2 cents - we all have our opinions, and we're all entitled to them. I appreciate your clarification and civil tone.


Posted by Derek, a resident of Danville
on Feb 13, 2014 at 8:06 pm

Actually Peter, I have not forgotten any of the details, and your conclusion that "There was a confrontation - started by Mr. LaMont" is not really founded in anything that has been written.
Go back and read this earlier post, and pay close attention to the sentence "All four in the CAR are likely to be charged" -

Web Link

The devil is always in the details. The conclusion - and by all means tell me if you disagree - is that three teens in the car were witnesses, and the fourth was Bruce Lee. But the most important part is that they were all INSIDE a car.
Now consider this tidbit, even if we decide to agree Lamont started the altercation:
When he went outside, he may well have been testy from being rousted from his sleep, or pissed that these people woke his kids up. We don't know. What there can be no argument over is that the teens had two good options at that moment.
1) Fire up the Yugo, and drive away.
2) Roll the window down a few inches to see what this allegedly violent, deranged man wanted.
Or, a very ill advised third choice: Have the biggest guy in the car get out, and engage Mr Lamont. A man who was hit so hard - possibly multiple times - that he is currently unlikely to ever fully recover.

I'm sorry Peter, but these guys did not drive away, and while I don't know why Mr. Lamont did not call the police (or maybe he did, and they didn't bother to show up) instead of going outside, one of the occupants of the car made the wrong decision. Your logic, and that of spcwt, is flawed.
Further, it is incorrect to imply that this fourth individual came forward immediately, because he did not.
If I was involved in anything like this, and I heard the next day on tv, radio, and the newspapers that the person I hit was in the hospital, I would be at the police station post-haste to try to get in front of it.
Let me point out lastly that if Lamont had done something like kicking in the door of the car, something that seemed to call for retribution on the spot, the teen who did the punching had little to fear in coming forward. He had three witnesses.
The most likely scenario, I firmly believe, is that David Lamont was unable to provide a full account due to his hospitalization, and the other three in the car might have been afraid of "Bruce Lee". The fact the police and DA failed to prosecute really tells us nothing at all.

Our bickering won't help Lamont recover, and I hope he is able to recover enough to resume something resembling a normal life.

I do know that no matter what you may choose to tell us here on these boards Peter, that given the choice, you would not want the person who went after Mr. Lamont living next door to you. I also strongly suspect that if David L. was your brother, father, or son, you would have a very different outlook on these events.


Posted by Peter Kluget, a resident of Danville
on Feb 14, 2014 at 9:09 am

I'm sorry, Derek, but your strained speculation has jumped the shark at this point. There's no question that "Bruce Lee" punched LaMont, causing him injury. That's a chargeable offense unless it was done in self defense. The three teenagers all ID'd "Bruce" when they talked to the police. "Bruce" didn't "lawyer up" - he, too, spoke with the police. So all of the evidence was there to charge him with some criminal offense, based on the statements made by the four teens.

Unless there was credible evidence supporting self-defense. The fact that no charges were filed strongly suggests that such evidence did exist. (LaMont has been conscious for three months now; no comment has been made publicly about what he has or hasn't said about what happened, and any conclusion you draw about that is speculation as well.)

Your fevered speculation based on a comment by a self-promoting lawyer with no connection to the case based on a reference to the teens as the ones "in the car" is over the top. They came in a car. They left in a car. That's just one way to refer to them and differentiate them from LaMont. Whether they we "in" the car when LaMont went out to confront them (and the rest of the narrative you spin from that) is pure speculation. No actual statement has been made by the police or anyone else with knowledge of what the witnesses to the event stated has been made.

I don't question that all people concerned made poor choices. LaMont and the teens both. Also, the consequences of those bad choices were disproportionate. Sometimes that's just what happens. But your need to tar the teens, whom the police have not charged with any crime, as "demon spawn" is irrational.

I have witnessed more than one confrontation between 40-something men and male teenagers. It's an interesting dynamic. The older men can be dictatorial, expecting instant compliance, while the man-child they confront may be asserting his nascent right to be treated "as an adult." The conflict can get explosive quickly. I've known the people on both sides at different times. In the events I know about personally the older men later expressed remorse and disbelief at their own actions. Whether that is a feature of this event I don't know.

But I do know that the irresponsible media labeling of this event as a "vicious" "brutal" "beating" is responsible for a lot of ill-informed anger and outrage. (Forget this site - check out the Pleasanton Weekly.)The media owe the community an apology. CBS, NBC, KTVU - I'm talking about you guys.

Bottom line: Forming an opinion before all the facts are known is dangerous. Since the authorities have "closed" the case it appears that for those with access to all of the evidence the conclusion was that no crime was committed by the teens. If there had been a "vicious" "brutal" "beating" charges would have been filed. The police know who hit LaMont. The witnesses to the event have identified that person. They didn't charge him with a crime. If there wasn't evidence of self-defense it would be a slam-dunk prosecution. It's really just as simple as that.


Posted by Derek, a resident of Danville
on Feb 14, 2014 at 12:17 pm

Really, do you ever get dizzy from all the spin you manage to put on every D.E. story Peter? And are you so incredibly pompous that you presume to know more than his wife, who was at the scene and gave this quote:

"These people that did this, they just drove away and left him", said Agnes Lamont, the victim's wife, to the local ABC affiliate.

You make a further assumption as well: that a civil suit will not be filed, when in fact you don't know that it won't.
That none of the other three vehicle occupants were willing to "rat out" their buddy hardly makes him innocent. Thousands of times every single day law enforcement is unable to bring indictments, not because crimes weren't committed, but because witnesses were not forthcoming.


Posted by Tom Cushing, a resident of Alamo
on Feb 14, 2014 at 12:31 pm

I just Know you guys have some favorite love songs, perhaps not for each other, but for SOMEbody. Ante-in, please, or be presumed to be soulless wretches.


Posted by Diane, a resident of Danville
on Feb 14, 2014 at 1:34 pm

@Tom, methinks you posted on the wrong thread....however, since you ask, I'm a big fan of "You Really Got Me" by the Kinks.


Posted by Peter Kluget, a resident of Danville
on Feb 14, 2014 at 1:38 pm

Well, this is interesting. Derek, you've made three forceful statements, each of which is simply wrong:

1: you so incredibly pompous that you presume to know more than his wife, who was at the scene and gave this quote:

"These people that did this, they just drove away and left him", said Agnes Lamont, the victim's wife, to the local ABC affiliate.

I am aware that Mrs. LaMont made that statement at the time, and I believe that it is accurate: that is, she said it and I am so "pompous" that I "presume" that she was telling the truth. However, I don't think it indicates that at that point she knew what happened before that time - do you? Furthermore, I presume that at this point she knows a great deal more than she did then, and now she's making no more comments. My question is: what significance do you believe the first statement has, to warrant your charge of "pomposity?" The fact that the teens fled after the altercation has been clear from the outset. I consider it to be one of the poor choices made that night, but not one of the more surprising ones. In my experience most teenagers - and young adults - would act that way, regardless of what went down beforehand. It is not compelling evidence of guilt on their part, but of fear of becoming entangled in a scary situation. You know - the kind of situation where people who don't even know you or know what really happened assume that you're "demon spawn" and insist that you should be punished?

Only the most mature and confident teen would behave differently. Do you actually know any teenagers?

2. You make a further assumption as well: that a civil suit will not be filed, when in fact you don't know that it won't.

Actually, I have assumed all along that a civil suit ***would*** be filed. The LaMonts have a significant amount of financial loss. Even without criminal culpability on the part of the teens there may be some exposure to damages in a tort suit, again, regardless of what exactly went down that night. Under tort law if any of the teens were considered to be even 1% at fault then the LaMont's would be entitled to a recovery of some sort. And "fault" for these purposes is a pretty subjective concept. The only reason ***not*** to file a claim would be if the facts were more extreme than I believe likely. But that assessment doesn't change my opinion of the lack of accuracy of the characterization of this event as a "vicious" "brutal" "beating."

3. That none of the other three vehicle occupants were willing to "rat out" their buddy hardly makes him innocent.

They ***did*** "rat him out." His identity was disclosed to the police by the other teens, and he met with the police less than a week after the altercation. That's the point: the police know who hit Dave LaMont. They know because the teens told them. That may fit your concept of "not ratting him out" but it doesn't square with mine. Further, your implicit assumption that four teenagers could get together and fabricate a "cover story" that the police wouldn't be able to pick apart demonstrates a complete ignorance of the reality of the efficacy of police interrogation skills. If this was a "vicious beating" the police would have evidence of that from the teens themselves. If you don't believe me, ask a police detective. One person might be able to stick to a phony story. Four? All teenagers? Fuhgeddaboudit.

The reason you have to keep twisting yourself into knots of increasingly tangential argumentation is because you are unwilling to face the central, undisputed fact: the police know who hit LaMont. They know LaMont was seriously injured as a result. The authorities have nonetheless decided not to bring criminal charges against him or anyone else. There is a simple explanation for that which doesn't require recourse to implausible conspiracy theories: the teenager was acting in self defense.

I understand that that conflicts with your heartfelt, emotional belief that LaMont is purely a victim and the teens "demon spawn." But it squares with the verifiable facts. Your theories don't.

My heart goes out to the LaMont family. They don't deserve what happened; they will be facing difficulties and hardship. But two wrongs don't make a right. Just because events got out of hand and he suffered an injury far out of proportion to what he or anyone else would have anticipated doesn't justify demonizing or punishing the teens he confronted that night.


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