A Costa Mesa city councilman is drawing ire from some members of the Police Department for planning to host a wake for a wanted man who died in a shootout with local officers.
The event at Skosh Monahan’s, a restaurant owned by Councilman Gary Monahan, is billed as a fundraiser and celebration of life for a 48-year-old Costa Mesa man named Julius Pinson, whose friends called him “Jay.”
According to police, Pinson was wanted in New Mexico on suspicion of sexual penetration of a minor and embezzlement and in Texas for embezzlement and assault with a deadly weapon.
In December, officers arrived at Pinson’s home to take him into custody, but he allegedly became combative and grabbed a gun.
Both sides fired their weapons, and Pinson died at the scene from a gunshot wound, according to police.
“Our officers had a gun pulled on them during an arrest with two shots fired by the suspect,” Costa Mesa Police Assn. President Rob Dimel said. “Our officers’ lives and those of the nearby public were in danger.”
Dimel, however, stopped short of saying it was inappropriate for Monahan to host the event.
“I believe Costa Mesans appreciate the enormous risks our officers take daily to keep this city safe,” he said.
But current and former members of the Costa Mesa Police Department, who asked that their names not be used, said some of the rank and file were upset by Monahan’s involvement.
Monahan said he knew Pinson from the times he visited Skosh Monahan’s but was unaware of any possible criminal history until police announced it in December.
“He obviously had some bad things that happened in his life and made some bad decisions, but he still had people that cared about him, and he cared about them,” Monahan said.
The wake is also a fundraiser to help Pinson’s girlfriend and her 11-year-old son, not an attempt to besmirch any officers, according to the councilman.
Monahan said he planned to speak with acting Police Chief Rob Sharpnack to make sure that was clear.
The councilman said Pinson, who sold antiques, “had a business right next door. He had a good family.”
Resident David Trotter, who asked Monahan to host the event, said he planned the fundraiser to help Pinson’s loved ones, who could not afford the ceremony or burial costs.
Pinson’s girlfriend witnessed the shooting, and her son heard it, according to Trotter.
“They deserve compassion and mercy and care,” he said, no matter who is at fault.
Trotter also extended an invitation to the Costa Mesa police — especially the officers involved in the December shooting, who he said must be affected by that night’s traumatic events and deserve support as well.
“I would love to see those police officers at the memorial,” he said.