SLO police chief fined $1,600 for losing gun in El Pollo Loco bathroom

Deanna Cantrell

As punishment for losing her gun in a restaurant bathroom, San Luis Obispo Police Chief Deanna Cantrell must forfeit approximately $1,600 in pay, according to an announcement by the city of SLO.

At about noon on July 10, Cantrell was eating lunch at El Pollo Loco on Los Osos Valley Road when she went to the restroom and inadvertently left her personal firearm in the stall. Having realized her mistake, she returned to the restaurant shortly afterwards and found the gun had been stolen.

On the evening of July 11, Skeeter Carlos Mangan, 30, turned in the firearm at the sheriff’s substation in Los Osos. Mangan admitted in an interview that he found the gun in the El Pollo Loco restroom and grabbed it, according to police.

The city conducted an investigation into the incident and found Cantrell violated two department policies. One of the policies states a secondary handgun must be carried concealed at all times and in a manner that prevents unintentional cocking, discharge or loss of physical control.

The other department policy Cantrell was found to have violated is a rule on following department safety standards and safe working practices.

City officials opted to punish Cantrell by fining her $1,598, which is the equivalent of two days of pay. Cantrell will also receive documentation in her personnel file.

Likewise, the chief must undergo training in firearm safety practices and hold a discussion with all members of the police department about the incident and the lessons learned that apply to all officers who carry firearms.

City Manager Derek Johnson said that Cantrell will keep her job and that he continues to have confidence in her.

“I continue to have confidence in Chief Cantrell’s leadership of the police department in a positive and professional manner ensuring a workplace and community that is safe and devoted to the highest level and standards of service. I have no doubts that this experience will drive Chief Cantrell to be even more vigilant, in both her leadership of the department and her own personal conduct,” Johnson stated. “Chief Cantrell displayed integrity throughout the incident, which is consistent with the high standards she sets for herself and her department. She immediately reported the incident, took full responsibility, initiated an investigation and ensured the firearm was added to the national database. All these factors weighed heavily in making my decision on corrective measures moving forward.”

Johnson said the city is not forwarding its investigation to the district attorney’s office because the incident does not meet any of the legal thresholds for prosecution.