A retired San Francisco cop now living in Marin County is being accused of threatening to "put a bullet" in an 11-year-old boy after the boy and his friends were reportedly ringing doorbells in the neighborhood and running away — i.e. playing ding-dong ditch.
63-year-old retired SF police officer Dean Taylor, who has also worked as a high school golf and basketball coach at San Rafael High School, seems to have a serious case of the "get-off-my-lawn" blues. The San Rafael resident was arrested last Friday and now faces charges of charges of kidnapping, criminal threats, false imprisonment, battery, and child endangerment following an incident that allegedly occurred last week.
As the Marin Independent Journal reports, a group of boys had been playing ding-dong ditch around the Point San Pedro Road neighborhood, until a gentlemen identified as Taylor by the boys and an independent witness chased them down, cut one of them off with his vehicle, and then allegedly grabbed him by the neck and kidnapped the boy. According to the boy and his parents, Taylor drove for a couple of blocks and allegedly threatened to "put a bullet in his head" if he and his friends kept ringing doorbells.
San Rafael police say that when they rang Taylor's bell last Friday, he immediately asked if they were there about those mischievous kids.
"Taylor told officers that the kids had rang his doorbell at least four times prior and he was fed up," says San Rafael police Lt. Dan Fink, speaking to the Marin IJ. "He said that he waited for the next time and when it happened he went out and chased the group of kids."
Taylor was charged with multiple felonies on Tuesday by the Marin County District Attorney’s Office, and arraigned on Thursday. As the Marin IJ reports, he pleaded not guilty, and his attorney, Anthony Brass, wouldn't comment on the case until he had received the official police report, though he did offer some explanation on Taylor's behalf.
"I can tell you that Dean Taylor served honorably with the San Francisco Police Department for 34 years, achieving the rank of inspector for the last seven years of his career,” Brass tells the Marin IJ. “He has been a contributing member of his community in San Rafael, where he raised his sons, and volunteered as a coach at San Rafael High."
Brass says that the final-straw doorbell ringing came on a night when "Mr. Taylor found himself at home recovering from a recent very painful surgery," and he could not face "another night of interrupted sleep due to teens pounding on his door as a form of prank."
"Needless to say, this event is an aberration for Mr. Taylor, a man with a spotless record who was home minding his own business struggling with his painful recovery," Brass said.
Taylor denies grabbing or threatening the boy, and he pleaded not guilty. He is now free on bail.
As the Wall Street Journal reported last spring, ding-dong ditch made a comeback nationwide during pandemic lockdowns, and they even spoke with a children's minister in Texas who was driving kids around to perform the prank — though in their version, they left sweet treats on their victims' doorsteps.
And mostly, at least as the Journal reports, the pranksters have been "giving grown-ups a much-needed dose of nostalgia and mischief."
Not everyone is so forgiving, clearly.