Webb cleared of criminal charges in Norman death

File Photo
Charles Rob Webb, Hemet Deputy Chief of Police.

■ Rusty Strait / Senior Reporter

The re-opened criminal investigation into the death of Anthony Norman has been completed, and no criminal charges against Charles “Rob” Webb, Hemet’s deputy chief of police, will be filed by the Riverside County District Attorney’s office, according to Murrieta police.
“The case was reopened at the request of a family member of Anthony Norman in October of 2016. The previous evidence was re-reviewed as part of this process. The re-investigation not only included the examination of the sworn depositions from 2015 of the Murrieta police officers involved in the case, but also the sworn deposition of the forensic pathologist who conducted the autopsy,” said Capt. Dennis Vrooman of the Murrieta Police Department, in a written statement.
The forensic pathologist determined that several factors contributed to Anthony Norman’s cause of death.
“The entire case was then formally presented to the Riverside County District Attorney’s Office. They concluded there was no evidence to support anyone was criminally responsible for Anthony Norman’s death,” said Vrooman. “On February 3, 2017, a letter was sent to Anthony Norman’s family with a detailed explanation of the facts discovered in this case, and the subsequent decision by the District Attorney’s Office.”
Meanwhile, it appears the city of Hemet has settled with the family of Norman, who filed a wrongful death suit against Hemet Deputy Police Chief Rob Webb and his neighbor, Michael Darragh, whose actions early Christmas morning 2012 led to Norman’s death following a scuffle outside their Murrieta homes.
Hemet has spent nearly $400,000 in legal fees defending Webb, who became involved in the case when he was called upon to help his neighbor, Darragh, subdue Norman, who died after the two men wrestled Norman to the ground.
While the amount of the settlement the city agreed to in order to stem the hemorrhaging of taxpayer-funded legal fees hasn’t yet been disclosed, it appears Webb may be off the hook with respect to any future liability. Darragh, on the other hand, isn’t so lucky.
“The trial is set to continue in July against Darragh,” said attorney John Messina of Murrieta, who is representing Norman’s family in the wrongful death suit.
Darragh allegedly came out of his house shortly after midnight armed with a survival knife and heavy-duty flashlight, which he used to club Norman nearly a dozen times, according to court records. Darragh says he was first hit in the head by Norman, who was wielding a pool cue. It’s unclear what Norman was doing early in the morning when he knocked on neighborhood doors, including at Darragh’s house, but it appears he was experiencing a psychological episode characterized by delusions and was asking for help. Norman was developmentally disabled and had the mental capacity of a 12-year-old. He also had been smoking marijuana, toxicology tests later revealed. No other drugs were found in his system, according to Messina.
Eric Vail, partner at Burke, Williams & Sorensen LLP, who acts as the city attorney for Hemet, declined to comment. Vail directed comments to City Manager Alex Meyerhoff, who also declined to comment.

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