Law enforcement responds to fight at Veterans Park; two deputies slightly injured

Redwood Times

The marked increase in the transient population in Southern Humboldt has caused a growing number of calls to the Humboldt County Sheriff's office. Most of these complaints have been reported as unwanted subjects, who are aggressively panhandling, blocking sidewalks or entrances to businesses.

Last Thursday, Sept. 27 this problem escalated when the Humboldt County Sheriff's office received a call at 2:45 p.m. regarding a fight in progress in the area of Jim Demulling Veterans Park, at the corner of Redwood Drive and Thomas Lane, Garberville.

Garberville Substation Lieutenant Ken Swithenbank and Deputy Al Stockton, responded to the scene a few minutes later and a citizen pointed out a male walking northbound through the park, indicating he was the suspect causing the disturbance.

The deputies saw the suspect, later identified as Justin Dalton Jones, 20 years old from Whittman, Arizona walking quickly away from them. Jones was yelling incoherently and walking into and across traffic on Redwood Drive, with no regard to traffic, which had to stop suddenly to avoid hitting him. Swithenbank and Stockton followed Jones who went up onto the porch area of the Tiger Lily Bookstore, across the street from Veterans Park.

The deputies followed Jones into the patio area of the bookstore where they contacted him. He showed obvious signs of being under the influence of a controlled substance. After attemps to calm Jones down, he became very agitated, and was clenching his fists and yelling unintelligible words and pacing back and forth.

When they thought they had calmed Jones down enough to take him into custody one of the deputies reached out and grabbed Jones' arm attempting to arrest him for being under the influence. Jones immediately pulled his arm away and began flailing both his arms, and charged the second deputy.

The second deputy deployed a taser on Jones, but it had no effect. Jones continued to charge the deputy and attacked him attempting to grab and pull the taser away from him. Jones was tackled by the first deputy and both deputies and Jones went to the ground. They again attempted to taser Jones, which still did not work.

Deputies were finally able to place one handcuff on Jones who continued to fight with them. He then turned onto his back and grabbed one of the deputies in a bear hug fashion. Jones, who was wearing heavy boots, was kicking the other deputy in the chest and face.

The citizen who initially pointed out Jones as the one causing the disturbance came to the deputy's aid by holding Jones feet. This allowed the deputy not being held in a bear hug to access his portable radio and call for emergency backup. Another citizen also came to the deputies' aid, and grabbed Jones around the neck in a chokehold fashion.

Jones' girlfriend, Marie Burkhart, 21 years old from Costa Mesa, California, who was nearby watching came to Jones aid and started attacking the citizen who was holding Jones by the neck, trying to get him to let go of the one deputy. With assistance of the two citizens, the deputies were finally able to handcuff Jones.

Four California Highway Patrol cars arrived on scene about this time to assist. Burkhart was then arrested by one of the deputies with the assistance of a California Highway Patrol officer for interfering with a police officer and being under influence of a controlled substance. She also resisted arrest when they attempted to take her into custody.

Meantime a crowd had gathered to watch what was occurring, and one subject in the crowd, identified as Robert Dale Irwin, 24 years old, from San Jose, CA was taken into custody by the California Highway Patrol on scene for attempting to incite a riot and obstructing a police officer.

Both deputies received abrasions from the fight, but did not require medical treatment. Deputy Stockton received cuts to his face from rose bushes on the porch and an abrasion to his knee and torn pants while struggling with Jones. Jones was transported to Redwood Memorial Hospital where he was medically cleared and treated for a small cut. He was then transported and booked into the Humboldt County Correctional Facility for assaulting a police officer, resisting arrest and being under the influence of a controlled substance.

Jones admitted to ingesting LSD and told the deputies Burkhart also ingested LSD. Jones' bail was set at $25,000. Burkhart was also booked into the Humboldt County Correctional Facility. She was released on her own recognizance.

Anyone with information for the Sheriff's office regarding this case or related criminal activity is encouraged to call the Sheriff's office at 445-7251 or the Sheriff's office crime tip line at 268-2539.

photo captions:


1. A CHP officer cleans up the personal property of suspect Justin Dalton Jones after it was strewn along Redwood Drive in front of the Veterans Park in Garberville.

2, Garberville Deputy Al Stockton after the altercation with Jones.

3, Justin Dalton Jones

4. Marie Burkhart

5. Robert Dale Irwin