California

SLO employee who knocked out woman in bar is out as a city building inspector

The San Luis Obispo building inspector convicted of assaulting a woman at an Avila Beach bar three years ago is no longer working for the city.

Christopher Olcott “is no longer employed by the city, effective today,” said Monica Irons, the city’s human resources director, in an email to The Tribune.

It’s unclear if Olcott was fired or if his employment status ended through another process.

“As this is a confidential personnel matter, I cannot provide any more details,” Irons said.

Olcott pleaded guilty to misdemeanor batter with great bodily injury in a May 28, 2016, attack on Lompoc teacher Camille Chavez while the two were jockeying for space at Mr. Rick’s bar in Avila Beach. He took a plea bargain to a lesser charge after his felony assault trial ended in a hung jury.

The incident was caught on surveillance video and widely shared on social media, evoking public outrage over its brutality.

In the video, Olcott is seen looking over his shoulder at Chavez and bumping her before he turns and elbows her in the head. He then unleashes a flurry of blows on Chavez’s male friend before security intervenes.

Olcott in jail in Seal Beach

The news comes as Olcott is 19 days into his 60-day sentence at a “pay-to-stay” public detention center in Seal Beach, where inmates of means pay up to $185 per night. He had been on paid leave before his jail sentence and then was placed on unpaid leave, according to city officials.

Olcott is scheduled to be released on Sept. 28, David S. Barr Jr., the Seal Beach Detention Center supervisor, told The Tribune in an email.

Olcott, Chris.JPG
Chris Olcott is no longer working for the city of San Luis Obispo. This is his city employment photo. City of San Luis Obispo

A San Luis Obispo Superior Court judge ruled last month that Olcott could serve his time in the out-of-area jail for his February guilty plea. Olcott’s defense attorney previously said that his client had received death threats since his conviction became public and that his car was tampered with.

Superior Court Judge Jacquelyn Duffy granted the detention-related request made by Olcott after San Luis Obispo County Sheriff Ian Parkinson gave his permission after Olcott met several conditions, spokesman Tony Cipolla wrote in an email in May.

According to Cipolla, those conditions included the court approving the plan, that Olcott serve his time at a public facility, and that Olcott “would have to pay for the cost (which is a cost savings to the county),” Cipolla wrote.

“When this was first brought to the attention of the sheriff, he indicated he would not object based on the stipulations listed above,” the email reads. “Where Mr. Olcott served his time was not a major concern of the sheriff, as long as he served his time based on those stipulations.”

However, at a previous court hearing, Duffy noted in court that she would only grant the request if the Sheriff’s Office gave its prior approval.

The District Attorney’s Office opposed the arrangement.

Pay-to-stay unusual in SLO County

In May, Cipolla said that requests for pay-to-stay are extremely rare in San Luis Obispo County. Parkinson had never been asked in his tenure prior to Olcott’s request, Cipolla said.

Since Olcott’s request, Parkinson has personally objected to one similar request from Ryan Petetit — also known as Ryan Wright — a former San Luis Obispo County developer who pleaded no contest to five felonies related to domestic violence. Petetit is due in court later this month to determine his custody, according to court records.

Olcott was ultimately given a Sept. 6 surrender date to report to the Seal Beach detection facility, which is publicly operated.

His defense attorney, Patrick Fisher, said that his client has received multiple death threats and his safety was a concern if he served his time in SLO County Jail.

“My client regrets what happened, and he wants to make it right during the restitution process,” Fisher said.

Olcott was sentenced on March 21 to 60 days in jail, but court records indicate he will serve about half that time.

A restitution hearing for possible monetary compensation to Chavez has been set for Dec. 5.

According to Transparent California, Olcott received $64,656 in regular salary and a total compensation amount of $73,197, including benefits, in 2018.

Tribune staff writer Matt Fountain contributed to this story.
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Nick Wilson covers the city of San Luis Obispo and has been a reporter at The Tribune in San Luis Obispo since 2004. He also writes regularly about K-12 education, Cal Poly, Morro Bay and Los Osos. He is a graduate of UC Santa Barbara and UC Berkeley and is originally from Ojai.
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