When convicted bank robber Luis Marty Narvaez walked into the Far East Side Madison branch of Chase Bank on the afternoon of March 1, 24-year-old Charles Daehling was just weeks into his position as an armed, undercover security guard working without a state license and under contract to an unlicensed and now-defunct Nebraska security firm.
Narvaez’s head and face were covered with a black cap and black mask as he briskly stepped to a window where a teller was already helping a customer, stuck a bag under the window and demanded money but never displayed a weapon, according to a 124-page Madison police report and video surveillance footage of the incident.
Daehling was already standing up from a chair in the bank’s small lobby and pulling a gun from his waistband when Narvaez reached the teller. He then took about four steps toward Narvaez and, without saying a word, shot him once in the back from about 6 feet away.
Narvaez collapsed and soon died at the scene. The whole episode — from the moment Narvaez entered the bank to the moment he was shot — lasted about seven seconds, according to surveillance videos.
Both the videos released last week and the police report were altered to remove information that would identify witnesses or the security guard. But several references to Daehling in the police report were not blacked out, and the State Journal was able to confirm his identity through social media, public records and its own reporting.
In May, Dane County District Attorney Ismael Ozanne announced his office would not pursue charges against Daehling.
A female customer who was at the teller window Narvaez approached told police Narvaez was wearing dark clothing and something over his face, and twice told the teller something similar to “put the money in the bag.”
“She then heard one shot and,” according to the woman, “‘he dropped.’” Until she saw blood, she said, she thought the whole thing might be a drill.
Daehling continued to point his gun at Narvaez for the four and a half minutes immediately following the shooting, according to the surveillance videos. Witnesses heard him tell Narvaez to remain still and keep his arms out, according to the report. One witness said that “made sense” because he thought the robber could be an active shooter.
In two formal interviews with police, Daehling said he shot Narvaez as the would-be robber stood before what Daehling said was the bulletproof glass of the teller’s window. He told police he didn’t know whether Narvaez was armed because he had his hands in the pockets of his hoodie.
Surveillance videos, however, show Narvaez before the shooting with his right hand out of his pocket and his left covered with what appears to have been the bag that he stuck under the teller’s window.
Daehling didn’t think giving Narvaez a verbal warning before opening fire “would have been appropriate” once he realized a robbery was taking place, because Narvaez and the female customer were close enough that he worried Narvaez could have taken her hostage, the police report says.
Daehling also told police he thought about trying to provide Narvaez with medical attention after the shooting but “given that he didn’t know whether the suspect was armed, the fact that he had his hands inside his hoodie pockets and the fact that he was the only one in the bank armed and with two customers, he believed that it would be better to make sure that he covered the male suspect with his firearm, until police arrived.”
Police said Daehling appeared to have been shaken by the incident and asked an officer for permission to smoke a cigarette to “calm his nerves,” according to the report. Later, before he was interviewed at the East District station, an officer made small talk with him “in an attempt to help him calm down as he appeared to be emotionally distressed by this incident.”
Attempts by the Wisconsin State Journal to reach Daehling, a former Marine, for an interview resulted in a June 30 email from Jason Johns, president of the Madison-based law firm NMLB Veterans Advocacy Group.
“This matter has been resolved and is no longer a ‘story,’” Johns said. “Charles has asked you to honor his wishes for no further inquiries to him, members of his family, friends, etc. He is still working through the trauma of the incident and taking the steps to move forward with his life as best as he can. Continued media inquiries only frustrates this, especially when he has nothing more to say about the matter.”
Narvaez, 35, had been released from federal prison six years before he tried to rob the bank, after doing almost 10 years for robbing Wisconsin Community Bank in Middleton in 2002. His death led police to close several older bank robbery cases in which he was a suspect.
No training, license
Daehling told police he hadn’t received any training from the Blair, Nebraska-based company he had been working for, Optimal Protection. The company’s owner, Jess L. Randall, told police that any training for his employees “is the responsibility of the contractor,” and that he hired only former members of the military or former police as “independent contractors.”
The independent contractors are hired through a company called Bobbi Randall Inc., Randall said, and the contracts “organized” through a Grandview, Missouri, company called Strategos International, according to the police report.
Bobbi Randall Inc. is registered with the Nebraska Secretary of State’s office as a court reporting service, with its registered agent listed as Roberta M. Randall at the same address Jess L. Randall provided for his private security company.
A man who answered the phone listed on Optimal Security’s website declined to give his name and said the firm is no longer in business.
When the State Journal told him it was seeking comment about the Narvaez shooting, the man said “no, that’s not going to happen,” and the line went dead.
Mark Warren, Strategos senior vice president and director of training, said his company no longer subcontracts with Bobbi Randall Inc. but that such subcontracting arrangements are common in the private security industry because no one particular security company can be licensed to work in every state.
The companies that hire the guards “are responsible then for their own subcontractors,” he said.
Under Wisconsin law, private security guards must be in uniform unless they hold state private detective licenses. Uniformed or not, they must also work for licensed security firms. Neither Daehling, Randall, Optimal Protection or Strategos show up in a search of licensed individuals or companies on the state Department of Safety and Professional Services’ website.
DSPS spokesman Matt Censky said the agency has no record or any active or completed investigation into Randall, Daehling, Optimal Protection or Strategos.
But on July 10, after inquiries from the State Journal, Madison Police East District Capt. Thomas Snyder said in an email: “Now that the DA’s Office has determined that criminal liability does not attach to the security guard for the shooting, MPD will refer the licensing issues that have been raised to the appropriate State regulatory authority for their determination on what, if any, sanctions should be pursued for noncompliance.”
Chase Bank, which started using off-duty Madison police officers to provide security at the branch shortly after the Narvaez shooting, declined to say whether it has any minimal training requirements for security guards who work at its branches, or to answer any other questions about how Daehling came to work at the branch.
“Following our standard policy, we decline to discuss our relationships with vendors,” Chase spokesman Tom Kelly said in an email.
What is ‘reasonable’?
Madison Police Chief Mike Koval and the department’s force coordinator, Kimba Tieu, were reluctant to speculate on how Madison police officers would have reacted had one of them been providing security at the bank when Narvaez tried to rob it.
In use-of-force incidents, “what, at first glance, appears to be a set of straightforward facts hardly ever is,” Koval said.
Tieu emphasized that the legal standard for determining whether lethal force is justified is not based on what is known about an incident in hindsight, but on what’s reasonable to believe at the time the incident is occurring.
“It is possible” a Madison police officer could have made the same decision Daehling did, Tieu said, noting that there can be a danger in hesitating to use force if the suspect uses the delay to harm someone.
If you’re the teller, “would you want the person who has the means to intercede to act?” he said.
At the same time, Tieu said officers are trained to give a verbal warning “if feasible” before firing on someone and that a suspect facing an officer can present a more direct threat than one who has his back turned, as Navarz did. But affecting both will be whether the officer has enough room to take cover, he said.
Other factors police are trained to consider are how far the officer is from the suspect and whether there are other people in the area, he said.
Tieu said Madison police have trained in scenarios similar to the one Daehling faced, but Koval said it would be unfair to compare what a veteran police officer and a security guard would have done in the Chase Bank robbery.
“A Madison police officer is provided significantly more training in ascertaining whether the use of deadly force is appropriate,” he said.
“A security guard has nowhere close to the reps and scenario-based vignettes that an MPD officer will receive over the course of their basic academy curriculum and ongoing training that is conducted on a yearly basis.”