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Ex-Laguna Beach officer held gun to colleague’s head after bar-hopping, prosecutors say

A former Laguna Beach police officer has been charged with assault with a deadly weapon after prosecutors say he held a gun to the head of another officer after a night out drinking last year.

Luke Christian Gilbertson, 35, is facing one felony count of assault with a deadly weapon and one felony enhancement of the personal use of a firearm during the commission of a felony stemming from an interaction on Sept. 23, 2019.

For the record:

2:44 PM, Jul. 21, 2020An earlier version of this article misidentified the Laguna Beach police chief. She is Laura Farinella.

Authorities say Gilbertson attended a barbecue and pool party last fall with three other members of the Laguna Beach Police Department and a police dispatcher.

At some point, Gilbertson and the other officers left the party and went to two other locations in Santa Ana, where they continued drinking, according to the Orange County district attorney’s office.

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On the ride home from a bar, Gilbertson pulled a handgun and placed it to the back of a fellow officer’s head, prosecutors said.

Gilbertson, who was hired in 2010, was placed on paid administrative leave after the incident while an internal investigation was conducted. He was relieved of duty in March, according to the Laguna Beach Police Department.

“All Laguna Beach Police employees take pride in serving our community with integrity and continually work to uphold the core values of our Department. When one of our members fails to do so, we hold that person accountable,” Chief Laura Farinella said in a statement.

“This arrest and his independent actions are not a reflection of the men and women that continue to serve our community with loyalty and commitment.”

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What prompted the assault has not been made public. Gilbertson pleaded not guilty in Orange County Superior Court on Monday. If convicted on all charges, he faces up to 19 years in prison. He has been released on $50,000 bail.

“It is unacceptable for an officer of the law to behave in a way that so blatantly disregards the well-being of another human,” Orange County Dist. Atty. Todd Spitzer said in a statement. “No one is above the law, especially a police officer who was entrusted to protect the innocent.”


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