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Simi Valley Police Department
Friday April 19th, 2019 :: 05:29 p.m. PDT


*Update* Warrant Arrest of Gary Allen Frost

On Tuesday April 16,2019, Officers from the Simi Valley Police Department arrested Simi Valley resident Gary Allen Frost pursuant to a felony fugitive warrant issued on December 17,2018 by York County Pennsylvania Magisterial Judge Scott Laird. When Mr. Frost was booked at the Ventura Main Jail, Deputies discovered he was not the suspect listed on the warrant despite having the same name, date of birth, and other physical identifiers. Mr. Frost was immediately released. What follows are the circumstances that led to this unfortunate error and in the interest of full transparency, we as a Department believe that Mr. Frost and the public at large deserve to understand what happened in this case.

On Saturday April 13,2019, Mr. Frost was pulled over by SVPD Officer Bryan Sarfaty for traffic violations. Officer Sarfaty ran a routine wants and warrants check on Mr. Frost and learned that there was a felony fugitive warrant for a suspect who had the exact same name, date of birth, hair color and height. Mr. Frost told Officer Sarfaty that he was unaware of any warrants and also explained that he had been a recent victim of identity theft. The warrant did not list an eye color, so Officer Sarfaty used his cell phone to call the Pennsylvania State Police for more information prior to taking any action. Officer Sarfaty was told by officials in Pennsylvania that there were no photos of Mr. Frost for him to compare with, and that the Detective assigned to the case was off-duty. Officer Sarfaty made the decision to release Mr. Frost with a traffic warning, because he wanted further information before serving the warrant.

On Tuesday April 16,2019, the Pennsylvania State Police called SVPD stating that they believed the Gary Allen Frost stopped by Officer Sarfaty on April 13 was the same wanted fugitive they sought. Trooper Ruben De Los Santos sent a photograph for comparison. SVPD Officer Chad Van Dyke was assigned to follow-up on the case. He viewed the warrant signed by Judge Laird and the photo sent by Trooper De Los Santos. Officer Van Dyke also obtained Mr. Frost's California DMV photograph for additional comparison and believed it closely matched the photo provided by Trooper De Los Santos. Officer Van Dyke next went to Mr. Frost's residence along with other members of the SVPD to serve the warrant. Mr. Frost was cooperative when he spoke to the SVPD Officers, and again denied that he was the wanted fugitive listed on the warrant. Based on the similarities Officer Van Dyke observed in the photos and the exact match on the other identifying features listed in the warrant, he arrested Mr. Frost.

What happened to Mr. Frost was an unfortunate mistake and not based on a rush to judgement or haste. Wanted fugitives often falsify personal information, deny they are the subjects of the warrant, and even take steps to alter their appearance in order to avoid arrest. Police Officers are trained to be skeptical and weigh their actions based on experience and what they reasonably believe to be the right course of action. We are human, and sometimes we make decisions that with the benefit of hindsight, we might not have made otherwise. Our Officers serve arrest warrants every day and thankfully errors like this are extremely rare. Officer Sarfaty demonstrated good judgement and discretion in releasing Mr. Frost during the traffic stop on April 13, because he wanted more confirmation before serving the warrant. lt was a completely different Officer on another shift (Officer Van Dyke) three days later that was assigned to follow-up on the case, and additional steps were taken to compare the photograph sent from Pennsylvania with Mr. Frost's DMV photo.

The Judicial Council of California Civil Jury Instructions state that Peace Officers are not liable for "wrongful arrest" if the officer acted in "good faith' and that the "arrest warrant would have appeared valid to a reasonably intelligent and informed person; that the officer believed the warrant was valid: and that the officer had a reasonable belief that the suspect was the person referred to in the warrant."

Ultimately, Officer Van Dyke made a decision based on the totality of the circumstances and acted in good faith in serving this warrant. Nevertheless, this does not change or negate the unfortunate experience Mr. Frost and members of his family endured before we discovered the error. I personally phoned Mr. Frost and left him a message apologizing for the embarrassment he experienced and told him we would fully investigate the circumstances surrounding his arrest. He has not returned my phone call. The warrant and photographs used in this case are attached to this press release.

David M. Livingstone
Chief of Police

Simi Valley Police Department
3901 Alamo St
Simi Valley, CA 93063

Emergency: 9-1-1
Non-emergencies: 805-583-6950

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