The Monterey County District Attorney has dropped all charges against Ivan Eberle, the caretaker at the MIRA observatory on Chews Ridge. Eberle had been charged with battery on a firefighter and interference with a firefighter in the line of duty (see earlier post for details).
The District Attorney says charges were dropped due to lack of evidence and their inability to locate a key witness. Eberle points out that the charges were dropped after his attorney requested ICS 214 reports (firefighter activity logs) – implying that the information contained in those logs might not have supported the District Attorney’s version of events.
Eberle believes the charges were brought in retaliation for his staying behind in the fire area and reporting that firefighting efforts were not going as well as being claimed by the Forest Service and/or because he complained (as did others) about the Forest Service not doing enough (i.e. doing nothing at all) to protect homes and other structures.
While the outcome is obviously a good one for Mr. Eberle, the larger issue of preserving the right of residents to protect their property or come to the aid of their neighbors during a disaster remains unaddressed. Residents who remained at home during the Basin Complex fire were frequently harassed and threatened with arrest by Sheriff’s Deputies and there is, at this point, no reason to believe that things will be any better when the next disaster strikes.