Advertisement

Bag Placed on Migrant’s Head Was Attempt at Humor, Ryberg Testifies : Trial: The store worker says he’s sorry for his action but claims both he and Candido Gayosso Salas laughed during their confrontation at the Country Store.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Randy Ryberg testified in Vista Superior Court on Wednesday that, out of “humor,” he drew a cross-eyed face on a paper bag, then put the bag over the head of a migrant he had handcuffed at the Country Store in Carlsbad.

“I showed him the bag. He laughed. I laughed,” said Ryberg, who is on trial for misdemeanor unlawful imprisonment of Candido Gayosso Salas, 27, in a Jan. 3 incident revealing the friction over North County’s migrant workers.

But Ryberg, responding to a question from his attorney, Lynn Behymer, acknowledged that he had no right to cover Gayosso’s head with the bag, on which he had written “No Mas Aqui,” a warning in Spanish to stay away.

Ryberg, a 6-foot-6 former Texan with a droopy mustache, answered “yes, sir” when Behymer asked whether he was sorry for the deed.

Advertisement

Yet Ryberg went on during an hour of testimony to explain why he grabbed Gayosso, handcuffed him to a stair rail, used the bag and bound the migrant with duct tape after a tense confrontation in the Country Store parking lot.

According to Ryberg, who is an independent contractor at the store owned by his older brother, Rick Ryberg, the episode resulted from the usual problems with migrants whom he said loiter and trespass at the store on rural El Camino Real while seeking work.

On the morning of the incident, Ryberg told the jury he arrived at work and found “about 40 to 50 Mexicans hanging around” outside. He said he asked them to leave, but shortly, a smaller group returned to the property.

He noticed Gayosso in the group and recalled “he was finishing a cup of coffee and I believe he had a burrito or something like that.” Ryberg again asked the migrants to move, and again they complied.

Advertisement

Fifteen minutes later, Ryberg said, he told another band of three or four migrants to depart, and repeated his command a fourth time a little later, noticing that Gayosso kept returning to the store.

According to Ryberg, Gayosso refused to leave and instead raised his arm to signal customers he was looking for work. “That’s when I grabbed it,” said Ryberg, who began taking Gayosso behind the store to handcuff him.

“I said, ‘Senor, you’re under citizen’s arrest,” Ryberg testified. Seven or eight other migrants looked on, with “a couple of them hollering, ‘You want to fight me? You want to fight?’ ” he said.

Ryberg summoned other store employees for help as Gayosso was escorted to the back and handcuffed. The Border Patrol was called and arrived about 25 minutes later, but agents stayed briefly and left without taking Gayosso.

Advertisement

A short time later, Ryberg said he decided to remove the handcuffs, but Gayosso “was kicking and trying to hit with his one (free) arm.”

Ryberg asked William Zimmerman, who runs the butcher shop inside the store, to help restrain the migrant. Zimmerman is also charged with one misdemeanor count of unlawful imprisonment. Ryberg said he fetched a bag and the duct tape, which he wound around Gayosso’s hands and legs “so he wouldn’t hit or kick.”

Although Ryberg testified he drew “a comical face” on the bag for the reason of “humor,” when Behymer asked why he put it on Gayosso’s head, Ryberg replied, “Just frustrated. I was upset the Border Patrol left. Just frustrated. It was a last-minute impulse thing.”

He testified he finally led Gayosso off the property and watched as other migrants out in the field laughed at Gayosso.

Advertisement

The defense maintains that both Ryberg and Zimmerman were making a legitimate citizen’s arrest of Gayosso, but the prosecutor, Deputy Dist. Atty. George McFetridge, has attacked the legality of their action.

Testimony will continue today, but the case isn’t expected to go to the jury for a verdict until early next week.


Advertisement