A central figure in the disastrously bad investigation into the 2015 kidnapping of Denise Huskins in Vallejo, Detective Mat Mustard, remains on the force, and a popular new Netflix documentary casts him as a villain.
We previously told you about American Nightmare, the three-part documentary series that premiered on Netflix two weeks ago, which centers on the kidnapping and sexual assault of Denise Huskins that occurred in March 2015. The series, which has been heavily promoted by Netflix, has brought renewed national attention to the case, and to the notoriously problematic Vallejo Police Department, which made several egregious errors in their handling of it.
American Nightmare notes that Detective Mat Mustard, who was the first to question Huskins's then boyfriend, now husband, Aaron Quinn, and subsequently Huskins herself, was named Officer of the Year by the Vallejo PD in 2015. And the Chronicle this week is highlighting how this case was not the only stain on Mustard's record.
They also note that Mustard served as president of the Vallejo police officers' union until 2019.
KQED reported in October 2021 on an investigation into some alleged racist comments that Mustard was said to have made, according to a colleague. The allegations included Mustard referring to a Black colleague as "boy," among other things.
Per KQED, "Mustard told investigators, according to the report, that he didn’t remember calling Scott 'boy,' but said if he did, there was nothing racist about it, and it is just a term that he sometimes uses, especially with younger people."
That investigation concluded in April 2020 and found that while Mustard likely made racist comments, he did not otherwise show animus toward his colleague. It is not clear if Mustard faced any discipline.
Mustard was also previously investigated for withholding exculpatory evidence from from criminal defendants in 2012 and 2020, KQED reports.
In American Nightmare, Mustard can be seen jumping to the immediate conclusion that Quinn was guilty of somehow harming Huskins, and was responsible for her disappearance — refusing to accept that Quinn had also been a victim. The department never tested Quinn's blood for the sedative he said he was given, which was the reason he gave for not reporting the kidnapping for many hours.
Mustard also allegedly made some highly troubling comments to Huskins's mother and brother after she was found, and after learning that she had been the victim of sexual abuse as a child.
Mustard is alleged to have said that prior victims of sexual abuse sometimes "seek out" further abuse because they miss the thrill and the attention.
It turned out that Huskins had been kidnapped in a highly bizarre manner and subsequently raped by her kidnapper, Matthew Muller, who remains in jail and who has been convicted in this and several other cases. The Vallejo PD is also alleged to have ignored any possible connection between reports about a Mare Island Creeper — a peeping tom who had been seen in the neighborhood where Quinn and Huskins lived — and Muller, who likely was that creeper.
Mustard remains employed by the department, but he has now become the subject of much of the public outcry from viewers of the Netflix documentary. As KPIX reported this week, the Facebook and Yelp pages of the Vallejo PD have been inundated with negative comments, mostly directed at Mustard.
"How does it feel to be publicly shamed and humiliated?" asked one commenter from Alabama. "It's not fun when the shoe is on the other foot is it? A serial rapist showed more sympathy for the victim than your police department did. Let that sink in."
Top image: Former Vallejo Police Chief Andrew Bidou, left, poses with Detective Mat Mustard after Mustard was named Officer of the Year for 2015. Photo via Vallejo PD