Police recommend charges in pepper-spray incident at Ocean Beach dog park; city attorney’s office weighs case

A still image from video shows a man apparently being pepper-sprayed at Dusty Rhodes Park in Ocean Beach.
A still image from a video posted on Facebook shows a man apparently being pepper-sprayed at Dusty Rhodes Park in Ocean Beach.

San Diego police are recommending that a 63-year-old woman be charged with misdemeanor counts including battery in a case in which a man was seen on video apparently being pepper-sprayed at an Ocean Beach dog park — he said because he was not wearing a mask.

Police Sgt. Matthew Botkin said this week that police had completed their investigation into the July 23 incident at Dusty Rhodes Park and referred the case to the San Diego city attorney’s office, which will make the final decision on whether charges will be filed.

The city attorney’s office did not respond to requests for comment.

San Diego police are investigating after a woman reportedly maced or pepper-sprayed a man for not wearing a mask while he was eating at Dusty Rhodes Dog Park in Ocean Beach — an encounter that was partially captured on video by a bystander.

July 28, 2020

The encounter — part of which was captured on video — unfolded near a picnic table at the park on Sunset Cliffs Boulevard at about 3 p.m. The man’s wife, Ash Sherilynn O’Brien, has said she and her husband were not wearing masks because they were away from others, eating takeout from a restaurant. They were with their 3-month-old pug named Spud.

O’Brien said a quarrel between her and a woman unfolded after O’Brien made a comment about someone else’s dog jumping onto the table where she and her husband were eating.

“[The woman] then proceeds to call us idiots for not wearing masks and eating at a dog park,” O’Brien told The San Diego Union-Tribune days after the incident, adding that she and her husband were unaware of rules against eating at the park.

As they exchanged words, the woman got closer to O’Brien with what O’Brien said she believes was pepper spray. When her husband tried to intervene, he was sprayed, she said.

A short video captured by a bystander and shared on Facebook by O’Brien shows a woman grabbing her dog’s leash with her left hand and pointing something — presumably the pepper spray — at a man’s face as his arms are raised in the air. The woman, wearing a black mask, at one point grabs his arms with her left hand, apparently in an attempt to prevent him from turning away.

O’Brien’s husband, who did not want to be identified, suffered redness, burning and irritation to his eyes, face and neck, as well as blurred vision.

O’Brien declined to comment this week.


Get Point Loma-OB Monthly in your inbox every month

News and features about Point Loma and Ocean Beach every month for free

You may occasionally receive promotional content from the Point Loma-OB Monthly.