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McGann Tells His Story of Unusual Watch Arrest at Oakland Airport

McGann said he was made to look like a terrorist by the Alameda County Sheriff's Department

Geoffrey McGann, the Rancho Palos Verdes man whose unusual watch resembling an explosive trigger led to his arrest last week at Oakland International Airport, said Tuesday that he is now trying to clear his record.

On Monday, prosecutors declined to file any charges against McGann after he showed up for his arraignment at Alameda County Superior Court. He was originally held on suspicion of possession of materials to make an explosive device but posted the $150,000 bail on Saturday.

Now that he is back at home in Palos Verdes, McGann--a teacher and managing creative director for a school that trains minorities for job placement in the communications industry-- said that it is time to start picking up the pieces and may even consider taking legal action.

McGann said that his innocence is clear given that no charges were brought against him and the fact that the federal government also took no action.

"It is a testament to how ridiculous that arrest was," McGann told Patch. "If there was even a shred of doubt, the federal government would have done something... and they didn't."

McGann said that he harbors no hard feelings against the TSA, the agency that initially stopped him at the security checkpoint. Instead, McGann said he has a problem with the way the Alameda County Sheriff's Department made him look like a terrorist.

"They treated it as if this incredible travesty was not a big deal to put me and my family through," McGann said. "To make it worse, they fed the press a story that they knew would paint a terrible picture of me so they could justify the false arrest," he said.

"My issue is never, and was never, with the TSA... They were doing their jobs," McGann continued. "My issue is with the Sheriffs Department and painting that picture... It is just irresponsible what they did."

McGann explained that after he was detained at the airport, he was able to show deputies photos of his watch collection on his phone to prove that they were art pieces, not detonators.

"They went and looked at the whole collection on my phone and then they realized I wasn't a threat," said McGann. "They were like, 'maybe we can let you go, but we don't think we can.'"

McGann said that he was arrested on suspicion of possession of materials to make an explosive device despite deputies telling him he wasn't a threat and his watch wasn't a bomb detonator.

"They charged me with a charge that didn't match what they told me... They said they knew it wasn't an explosive device," McGann said, adding that some deputies even commented that they wanted a watch for themselves. "I think it was because of all the commotion that was caused and they wanted to cover their ass."

McGann also explained that he had been travelling with his homemade watches for the past six months and even got a go ahead from the TSA in Los Angeles the first time he travelled with them.

"It is not a surprise that I got stopped by TSA...They are precarious looking watches. It's just they said it was alright if I put it in the bin," McGann said. "I knew I might be stopped sometime and that I might have to explain the watch as I did the first time I went to TSA months ago."

Throughout the process, McGann also said that he was scared about what would happen to him.

"I was scared... I didnt' know what was going on," McGann recalled. "I am thinking, 'oh my god, am I in some sort of Guantanamo mode where this is going to go somewhere that is going to be horrifying?'"

With all the media coverage of his ordeal, McGann is now worried about his reputation in a conservative Palos Verdes and how his 11-year-old daughter will be treated at school.

"The fact is, she is 11 years old," McGann said. "As much as I try to explain it to her, they operate on the rule book of peer pressure and how people see them."

Despite his worries though, McGann said that both his neighbors and his daughter's school have been very supportive throughout the past few days.

"My neighbors are great.... The school has been great," he said.

McGann said he is now trying to get the arrest off his record and is also in the process of determining if the ACLU should be involved in the case or not.

"This happens all the time... You just don't hear about it when it happens to people that are underrepresented or don't have the ability to hire an attorney," McGann said. "These guys (Sheriff's Department) just think they can do whatever they want."

Father Christmas November 21, 2012 at 12:11 PM
This idiot should have known exactly the fuss he would cause. The other "reasons" about operating a business is just sophistry. He is a tecaher not a watchmaker. And really...who wants to wear a watch looking like a bomb when people are still sensitive to the damage done by terrorists on home soil. At the very least charge him with wasting law enforcement resources or something like that, and make him a test case to warn idiots who want to mess with the system that is designed to protect us. Leave the watch at home dude and grow up!
Saul Blumenthal November 21, 2012 at 01:12 PM
Right, Jason, because you have seen your share of ticking time bombs in real life, and not just in movies and on Saturday morning cartoons, right?
jason November 21, 2012 at 04:38 PM
father christmas it sounds like you like to profile people, with that word IDIOT.!!!!! i would not go that low,i would go about the level of a IMBECILE.!!!!! give him some credit he lives in rancho palos verdes.
jason November 21, 2012 at 06:46 PM
sorry for the missed spell word on my comment above father christmas the word THAT should of been THANK.!!! meaning THANK GOD FOR DUE PROCESS.!!!!!
Cat S. November 21, 2012 at 08:46 PM
There is precedence about the Oakland Police and Alameda Sheriff freaking out about bombs, about twenty years ago two activists were arrested for blowing themselves up in a car bombing, and for transporting a bomb, when they were obviously the victims! Took them ten years in court to get justice. See article: http://mecgrassroots.org/NEWSL/ISS41/41.07-10judi.html

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