The son of a retired Orange County sheriff’s sergeant who was involved in a conflict with a gun-wielding sheriff’s deputy in a San Clemente skate park two years ago filed a lawsuit against the deputy and the county Tuesday.
Max Chance III filed a lawsuit in Orange County Superior Court alleging negligence, assault and battery, civil rights violation and intentional infliction of emotional distress. Deputy Michael Thalken, the Orange County Sheriff’s Department and Orange County are named in the suit.
Chance, who lived with his family in San Juan Capistrano and was 16 at the time, went to a skate park in San Clemente the evening of Oct. 12, 2019, with his friend and were enjoying a band playing at the park when Thalken, who was off-duty at the time, confronted the band about the noise, according to the lawsuit.
“Deputy Thalken appeared angry and possibly intoxicated,” the lawsuit alleged.
Thalken was at a nearby Little League baseball diamond and apparently wanted the band to stop performing, the lawsuit alleged.
One of the group “mimicked the drunk-like walk” of Thalken as he bellowed, “Where’s the tough guy,” the lawsuit alleged.
As Thalken confronted the teen mocking him, Chance told the teen to back up, according to the lawsuit.
Chance put up his skateboard “to defend against a potential assault” from Thalken, who had not told the group he was a deputy, according to the lawsuit.
Thalken tried to grab Chance’s wrist and then said, `Get on your knees or I will shoot you in the (expletive) face,” the lawsuit alleged.
“He still did not identify himself as law enforcement as he brandished and pointed his handgun at (Chance’s) face,” the lasuit alleged.
The teen “complied, while others pleaded with Deputy Thalken to stop what he was doing.”
Various cell phone videos captured the conflict and were aired in news reports of the incident.
Thalken eventually “identified himself as law enforcement,” as he said, “you are coming with me to the parking lot,” according to the lawsuit.
Thalken returned the weapon to his jacket pocket and argued with other witnesses, the lawsuit alleged.
Thalken told responding deputies that the group of kids “were the aggressors and that (Chance) had swung his skateboard at him,” the lawsuit alleged.
“Of course, both claims were false and refuted by video evidence,” the lawsuit alleged.
Chance’s father, who had previously worked with Thalken as a rookie before the sergeant retired, called Thalken at the scene. Thalken told Chance’s father that “the kids were douche bags with a mob mentality,” the lawsuit alleged.
Thalken told Chance’s father that he pulled out his gun because Chance “went at me with a skateboard. They were all crowding around me,” the lawsuit alleges.
Orange County sheriff’s deputies presented a case for criminal charges to prosecutors, but the District Attorney declined to file, said Carrie Braun, a spokeswoman for the Orange County Sheriff’s Department.
After an internal review of the incident, Thalken was disciplined, but state law prevents the release of any details of the discipline, Braun said.