Archie Schaffer Jr., president of the Santa Barbara charter of the Hells Angels Motorcycle Club was acquitted today of charges stemming from a road rage incident earlier this year. Schaffer, 35, had been charged with street terrorism, making criminal threats, reckless driving, using a firearm in the commission of a crime and committing a crime for the benefit of the Hells Angels.
The Inciting Incident
Last January 17th, Schaffer was driving his pickup truck north on California Highway 33 near Casitas Springs when he passed a car and allegedly tailgated a female motorcyclist riding in the fast lane. After she pulled to the left, Schaffer was accused of aggressively passing four other motorcyclists.
Two of the motorcyclists, Daniel Davis and Duncan Mardling pursued and overtook Schaffer. Everyone agrees Schaffer was annoyed but witnesses told at least two versions of what happened next.
According to Davis, Schaffer drove away from the bikes, stopped, got out of his truck and made a “pushing action” as if he was trying to “challenge” the bikers “to a fight.”
According to Mardling and another man involved in the incident named David Navarrete, Schaffer asserted his membership in the Angels and threatened them with a gun. Davis told the jury that whatever happened only lasted about “ten seconds.”
Schaffer’s lawyer, Anthony Zinnanti, called the aftermath of those ten seconds “part of…a grudge match that has been going on for decades” between California police and the Hells Angels Motorcycle Club.
One policeman who has spent the last eight months trying to build a case against Schaffer and the Angels is Ventura County Sheriff’s “gang unit,” Sergeant William Schierman.
Schaffer was arrested January 30th and compelled to post a $160,000 bond. Ventura Deputies searched Shaffer’s house four times for the gun he allegedly brandished at Mardling and Navarrete. Zinnanti accused the searchers of knocking down doors, terrorizing Schaffer’s family, destroying property and “trophy taking.” During those searches the Sheriffs confiscated the top of a personal printer, a fax machine, a Hells Angels cut, a Hells Angels calendar, personal papers and children’s drawings but never found the gun. Zinnanti also accused the police of placing him under surveillance.
On April 9th, a Ventura Sheriff’s Department Captain named Ross Bonfiglio dismissed Zinnanti’s complaints saying, “I tend to doubt that.”
You Know Why
The charges against Schaffer gave Sheriffs an excuse to search the homes of another 13 members or associates of the motorcycle club in Ventura, Ojai, Oak View, Carpentaria and Santa Barbara. In March the home of a man named Jonathon Ortiz who was suspected of once giving Schaffer a lift was searched.
Ortiz, fearing his mobile home was being burglarized, called 911. His call was transferred to a “gang unit” detective. “He was rude and said I knew why I got searched,” Ortiz told the Ventura County Star. “I said, ‘I have no idea why.'”
As of today all this vigorous police work has yielded nothing except ill will. Before the case went to the jury on Monday, Zinnanti called Sergeant Schierman to the stand and made him testify to that. Schierman was Schaffer’s final defense witness. The Star reported that Schierman looked “surprised.” He should have looked ashamed.