Arizona resident, N.B. made a call to the Vancouver Police Department Domestic Violence Unit on November 20, 2017, days after learning that her son, Calvin Luarca, had undergone emergency surgery for a life-threatening stab wound that severed an artery just below his heart. N.B. had been told that her son survived the stabbing, and that he had been arrested upon recovery from surgery. She called the Vancouver Police Department to get more information about the circumstances surrounding the stabbing and arrest.
N.B. initially spoke to VPD Detective Sandra Aldridge who had been assigned to investigate the incident. According to Aldridge’s March 14th testimony during Calvin Luarca’s trial, N.B. “wanted information about the case. She was upset and wanted general details.” When asked if Luarca’s mother was satisfied with the information provided, Detective Aldridge testified, “No, not at all. Ultimately, she hung up on me.”
According to N.B., during the November 20th phone call Detective Aldridge laughed while informing her that there was a tremendous amount of her son’s blood in the driver’s seat of his car, and that Calvin Luarca was the guilty party, not a victim regardless of his life threatening injury.
On December 4, 2017, N.B. filed the first of several complaints against Detective Aldridge for “Bias-Based Policing.” In late December, N.B. was contacted by VPD Professional Standards Unit investigator, Cpl. Duane Boynton to set up an interview. She had been assured that Detective Aldridge had been removed from the case and that Officer Deb Libby was handling the ongoing investigation.
As Calvin Luarca’s trial date approached, N.B. discovered through comments made to her son by his attorney, David Kurtz that Detective Aldridge remained fully involved in the case and was “pissed off” about N.B.’s continuing involvement.
On March 8, 2018 following the readiness hearing for Calvin Luarca’s March 12th trial, Detective Sandra Aldridge went before a judge with a 4-page probable cause statement to request a warrant for the arrest of the Arizona grandmother. In the PC statement, Detective Aldridge cited jail phone calls from Calvin Luarca to his mother, and voice messages left by N.B. to the alleged victim, Zonnisha Meyer, made within days of the November incident. The voice messages, played in open court before the jury, depicted a worried mother describing the seriousness of the charges against her son, and asking Ms. Meyer to “tell the truth”. N.B. did not speak directly to Zonnisha Meyer, and she did not continue attempts at contact in the 3 months prior to trial.
The charging information against N.B., filed on March 8th and signed by Deputy Prosecutor Deborah R. Wechselblatt, lists 1 count of TAMPERING WITH A WITNESS (RCW 9A.72.120(1)(a)) alleged to have occurred “On about or between 11/18/2017 and 12/11/2017”.
Also in the document, Deputy Prosecutor Wechselblatt wrote, “The defendant resides out of state. Law enforcement officers [Detective Sandra Aldridge] have advised that the defendant will be in the local area from March 9, 2018, through March 12, 2018, therefore a warrant of arrest is requested.”
N.B. did not fly to Washington to attend her son’s trial, nor had she planned to as indicated to Deputy Prosecutor Wechselblatt by Detective Sandra Aldridge.
On the afternoon of March 14, 2018 prosecution and defense rested their case in the matter of State v. Calvin Luarca. Closing arguments and jury deliberation were scheduled for the following morning. Later that evening, N.B. was arrested in Florence, Arizona on an out-of-state warrant called in by an officer from Vancouver Washington according to a Pinal County Arizona official.
N.B. is a 52-year old grandmother with no criminal history who is raising her five-year-old grandson. Due to the arrest, she is currently at risk of losing her 10+ year position as a federal employee as she sits in an Arizona jail on a NO BAIL HOLD awaiting extradition to Clark County to answer to a 1-count charge of “Tampering with a Witness” based on PC for arrest written by Detective Sandra Aldridge.
N.B.’s next appearance in an Arizona courtroom is set for April 15 to determine whether Washington (Clark County) plans to extradite or not. The WA sentence range for the charge alleged is 30-90 days if convicted, yet N.B. cannot answer the charge, and is being held in Arizona as a Washington Fugitive from Justice with no opportunity to post bail for at least the length of the minimum sentence.
This situation is ludicrous on its face, but even more so when you delve into the circumstances surrounding the actions taken by Detective Sandra Aldridge who has been under investigation by VPD Professional Standards Unit regarding complaints filed against her by N.B. dating back to early December 2017 (IAC 2017-0126). This incident has every appearance of a retaliatory act.
Also of significance is the fact Detective Sandra Aldridge is currently under multiple Internal Affairs investigations for recent complaints filed with the Vancouver Police Department. One of those complaints was filed by a local attorney and has been shifted to the Camas Police Department Internal Affairs for outside agency investigation. If those claims are substantiated, Detective Aldridge may be facing criminal charges.