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OC Supervisors Approve $195K Settlement In Lawsuit After Off-Duty Deputy Pulled Gun On Teens At San Clemente Skatepark

SANTA ANA (CBSLA) — The Orange County Board of Supervisors Tuesday approved a $195,000 settlement in a lawsuit filed after an off-duty deputy pulled a gun on a group of teens at a San Clemente skatepark almost two years ago.

off-duty deputy skate park
Cell phone video shows off-duty Orange County sheriff's deputy Michael Thalken pull a gun on 16-year-old Max Chance III on Oct. 12, 2019. (Cell phone video)

Max Chance III, the son of a retired Orange County Sheriff's Department sergeant, filed the lawsuit in March, alleging negligence, assault and battery, civil rights violation and intentional infliction of emotional distress. The suit names Deputy Michael Thalken, the sheriff's department and Orange County as defendants in the suit.

Chance, who was 16 at the time and was living with his family in San Juan Capistrano, went to a San Clemente skatepark the evening of Oct. 12, 2019, with a friend. The pair 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.

The lawsuit said Thalken was at a nearby Little League baseball diamond and wanted the band to stop playing. The lawsuit alleges Thalken "appeared angry and possibly intoxicated."

The lawsuit states that one of the teens started mocking Thalken when Chance told him to back up. Chance then 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 suit.

Thalken then tried to grab Chance's wrist and said, "Get on your knees or I will shoot you in the [expletive] face," still failing to identify himself as a deputy, according to the lawsuit. Thalken then brandished and pointed his gun at Chance's face, the lawsuit said.

Chance "complied, while others pleaded with Deputy Thalken to stop what he was doing," according to the suit. At least one person filmed the incident on their cell phone and shared it online.

The lawsuit said Thalken eventually identified himself as a member of law enforcement and told Chance to follow him to the parking lot. The suit alleges that Thalken returned the weapon to his jacket pocket and argued with other witnesses.

After law enforcement was called to the skatepark, the lawsuit alleges Thalken told deputies that the teens were the aggressors and that Chance had swung his skateboard at him.

"Of course, both claims were false and refuted by video evidence," the lawsuit said.

The lawsuit also claims that Thalken told Chance's father, who had previously worked with Thalken before retiring, that "the kids were douche bags with a mob mentality." The lawsuit also alleged that Thalken also said that he had pulled out his gun because Chance "went at [him] with a skateboard."

The board voted 4-0 to approve the settlement. Supervisor Katrina Foley abstained from voting because of a potential conflict of interest.

"The family is pleased that this chapter in their son's life has come to an end and that some justice was served," attorney Eric Traut, who represented the Chance family in the lawsuit, said.

The Orange County District Attorney's Office declined to file charges against Thalken after OCSD presented the case. And while OCSD said Thalken was disciplined after an internal review, a spokesperson for the sheriff's department said state law prevented the release of any details of the discipline.

(© Copyright 2021 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. City News Service contributed to this report.)

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