Sheriff's office employee among 3 arrested for vandalizing Black Lives Matter sign

A Ventura County Sheriff’s Office employee and an investigative assistant with the county’s district attorney’s office were among three people arrested over the weekend, accused of damaging a Black Lives Matter sign.

Ventura County Sheriff's Office employee accused of vandalizing a Black Lives Matter sign. (Ventura County Sheriff's Office)

The Ventura County Sheriff’s Office said the arrests stemmed from multiple incidents over the last three weeks, with vandals targetting a large tarp sign with the letters BLM painted on it.

Investigators said 60-year-old Darrin Stone was seen on video slashing the sign with a knife on June 13. Detectives said he also tore down the sign a second time about a week later on June 19. Stone was off-duty at the time of both incidents, sheriff’s officials said. 

Stone has been an employee of the sheriff’s office since 2005 and worked as a service technician at the Pre-Trial Detention Facility in Ventura. It’s a non-sworn position. Service technicians primarily work in the Detention Services Division supervising inmates.  

Investigators said the owner of the sign placed a surveillance camera nearby in an effort to deter vandals from defacing it. Investigators said the owner ended up posting an image of one of the incidents on social media, and that’s when detectives identified Stone as a suspect.

“I’m deeply disappointed that one of our employees involved himself in this type of illegal activity, especially when this is an infringement on someone’s First Amendment right to freedom of speech,” said Sheriff Bill Ayub. “We will not tolerate unlawful or unethical behavior by anyone employed by our agency. We hold our employees to the highest standards, and there will be consequences for this.”

Stone has been placed on paid administrate leave, pending the outcome of the investigation, the sheriff’s office said.

Two other men, Jeffrey Moore, 58, and Craig Anderson, 60, both of Thousand Oaks, were also suspected of damaging the sign. 

Investigators described Anderson as a “non-sworn investigative assistant at the Ventura County District Attorney’s Office.” They said on May 31, he was seen cutting down the sign and was about to remove it, when he noticed the camera and left the scene. 

Detectives said on June 11, 2020, Moore was seen getting out of his truck and then spray painting graffiti on it before leaving the scene. "Moore was tracked down through the company name and phone number prominently displayed on his vehicle," officials said. 

All three suspects have received a misdemeanor citation for vandalism.

In a press release, the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office said it "is committed to safeguarding and upholding everyone’s constitutional rights as a cornerstone of the oath to which we have sworn."

This story was reported from Oakland, Calif.