A former Laguna Beach police officer was charged with assault with a deadly weapon for allegedly holding a handgun to the back of a fellow officer’s head following a night of drinking.
Luke Christian Gilbertson, 35, pleaded not guilty Monday in Orange County Superior Court to one felony count of assault with a semiautomatic firearm with an enhancement of personally using a firearm in the commission of a felony, according to court records. He faces up to 19 years in state prison if convicted of both charges.
“It is unacceptable for an Officer of the law to behave in a way that so blatantly disregards the well-being of another human. No one is above the law, especially a police officer who was entrusted to protect the innocent,” District Attorney Todd Spitzer said in a prepared statement.
Gilbertson was hired as a Laguna Beach police officer in 2010. He was one of three Laguna Beach officers recognized by Mothers Against Drunk Driving in March 2014 for removing drunk drivers from the city’s streets.
In September 2019, Gilbertson was with three other Laguna Beach police officers and a dispatcher at a pool party and then went to two other locations to drink alcohol. The group was in the same vehicle on the way home from a Santa Ana bar when Gilbertson allegedly pulled a handgun from his holster and held it to a fellow officer’s head. No one was injured during the incident.
When Laguna Beach police command staff were made aware of the incident, Gilbertson was put on paid administrative leave while an internal investigation was conducted, the department said in a statement Monday. He was terminated by Laguna Beach in March after that investigation concluded.
Gilbertson was arrested over the weekend for the criminal violation during the September 2019 incident, Laguna Beach police said. He was released on a $50,000 bail.
“All Laguna Beach Police employees take pride in serving our community with integrity and continually work to uphold the core values of our Department,” Laguna Beach Police Chief Laura Farinella said in a prepared statement. “When one of our members fails to do so, we hold that person accountable. 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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