By Ella Jennings
WOODLAND, CA – Drinking and driving isn’t a good idea—maybe drinking and stalking isn’t, either.
Sander Findlay was accused of just that here in Yolo County Superior Court Monday, charged with three counts of stalking—after allegedly being naked in the public hallway of his apartment and banging on doors of his neighbors in the early morning hours, while severely intoxicated.
At 4:07 a.m. on Jan. 19, police Officer Benjamin Adams responded to a call placed by a man complaining his roommate was blasting loud music all night and was walking around the apartment naked, adding Findlay drank a large amount of alcohol that night. The officer said the defendant’s breath blood alcohol level was 0.20 at jail.
The roommate said he and Findlay had gotten into a physical altercation in their shared bathroom before the call was made, and Findlay asked the roommate to “stab (Findlay) with it.” The officer said the roommate told him, “If I had a gun, I would shoot you.”
When Officer Adams arrived at the apartment, he heard yelling and loud music from inside. When he made contact with Findlay at the front door, the defendant was completely naked. The officer asked him to put clothes on and step outside, but he refused.
When the officer talked to the tenants across the hall, the three women living there said that Findlay had been continuously ringing the doorbell. Adams then advised Findlay to stop ringing the doorbell and to leave the neighbors alone.
The women said weren’t afraid at that point, but were “just upset that they couldn’t sleep since Findlay was continuously ringing the doorbell.”
About an hour later, Adams was called back to the apartment complex a second time at 5:34 a.m. after the neighbors complained about Findlay continuing to ring the doorbell. The defendant was near naked again with only a towel wrapped around his waist.
The officer addressed him and he said he “asked him to stop ringing the doorbell. He immediately walked over to the doorbell and rang it.”
The officer then went to leave the complex, but as he was walking away, he heard Findlay yell, “Pop pop.”
Adams said he “interpreted it as if he were going to shoot me with a firearm…I assumed he was using his finger gun like he always does, and making those noises as if he was shooting me.”
The officer testified he has had “numerous contacts with Mr. Findlay in regards to him having finger guns and acting as if he’s shooting people—he’s even insinuated he’s had rifles and acts like he’s shooting people.”
A call was placed to the police station a third time at 6:07 a.m. by the female tenants across the hall. They said that Findlay was now “kicking and banging at (their) front door and yelling.”
The defendant wasn’t in the hallway when Adams arrived after the third call, but the neighbors seemed “very shaken up and scared, concerned as to what was going on.”
The officer testified that “one of the females had looked through the peephole and saw that he was naked. He at that point started jiggling the door handle, and he was overheard angrily yelling the word “f**k” numerous times and ‘is there vagina in there?’”
After speaking to the neighbors, Adams said he talked to Findlay, who was again fully naked. The defendant nonchalantly explained that he kept going to the neighbors since “he was looking for ketchup and he would not do that again.”
Adams then placed Findlay under arrest and said the defendant admitted to ringing the doorbell, but denied other accusations.
After Findlay was arrested, Adams spoke to the neighbors. They didn’t initially know who Findlay was, but repeatedly told Adams, “We just felt harassed. ” Adams asked specifically “whether they felt Mr. Findlay had a sexual intent,” and they agreed that they felt he could come in and sexually assault them.
The defense argued that the three counts of stalking Findlay was being held for were invalid since he hadn’t made a clear credible threat, but Deputy District Attorney Matt de Moura countered that the defendant’s relentless pounding on the door and jiggling the doorknob “makes the threat appear capable of being carried out.”
Judge David W. Reed agreed, saying that “pounding on the door (at 4:40 in the morning without apparent purpose)… I think a reasonable person could take that as an implied threat of violence and sexual violence, whether it was his intention or not it’s hard to say.”
After Findlay’s arrest, the police report documents that “two times he mentioned using a knife to kill them, the third threat stated he would kill her.”
The officer who transported him to the jail, Keirith Briesenick, explained that “a wide range of emotions could indicate many things; it could indicate alcohol, or mental health… sure, it could indicate several things.”
When Officer Briesenick explained the stalking charges to him in the car, Findlay laughed and said, “I have no idea who these people are.” She told him that stalking charges included a credible threat, to which he said that “he was going to use a knife to kill the neighbors.”
Although the defense argued he meant the statement sarcastically, Briesenick took the threat seriously and called her supervisor to discuss additional bail enhancements to ensure that Findlay couldn’t carry out the threat.
The officer testified the defendant then said, “I’m going to kick the door down, that’s ridiculous… I’m going to kick the door down, just take me to jail, let’s get this over with.” He laughed at this point, and said he knows he didn’t do anything wrong and wanted to go to jail to get it over with.
Findlay was also on probation for a DUI at the time, and had violated his probation condition that he was not to drink any alcohol. His bail was increased to $5,000 as a result.
He will be arraigned on March 23.
Ella Jennings is a second-year at Westmont College with a double major in Psychology and Art. She is from Burbank, California.
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