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Sonoma County Sheriff's Office
Thursday October 20th, 2016 :: 03:00 p.m. PDT


Sonoma County Sheriff's Deputy accused of excessive force, criminal investigation initiated by Sheriff.

Press Release:

The Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office is conducting an internal affairs investigation into the actions of deputies during a use of force incident at a domestic dispute call. The Sheriff has also requested an independent criminal investigation into this incident.

The investigation stems from a call that occurred on Saturday, September 24th, 2016, at about 10:30 PM. Three deputies were sent to a home in Sonoma Valley regarding a domestic dispute. A neighbor called to report that her neighbors were involved in a loud argument.

When deputies arrived at the home a woman opened the front door. All three deputies entered the home. One deputy took the woman into a room to question her, and the other two deputies went to the back of the home looking for the woman’s husband who was in a locked bedroom.

The primary deputy forced open the bedroom door when the husband refused the deputy’s orders to come out. Once inside the bedroom, the husband was found lying on a bed. The deputy ordered the husband to stand up, but the man refused. The deputy grabbed the man’s arm and the man pulled away. The deputy deployed his Taser, but it had little effect. The man was able to sit up and pull the Taser wires out. The deputy then pulled out his baton and struck the man in the leg. The second deputy became involved and the two deputies tried to physically restrain the man on the bed. The third deputy, who stayed behind to talk to the wife, came into the room to provide assistance. The man was able to break free and run towards the bedroom door. The primary deputy then swung his baton several times into the man’s back. The man went down to the ground and the struggle continued. The third deputy deployed his Taser which was effective and they were able to get him into handcuffs.

The deputies then conducted the investigation for domestic violence and it was determined that it had only been a non-criminal domestic related argument. The man was taken to a local hospital where he was treated for his injuries.

The man was transported and booked into the Sonoma County Jail at 1:12 AM on September 25th on charges of threatening an officer, resisting and obstructing an officer, and a battery on an officer. He was released on a $10,000 bail bond at 2:36 AM that same morning.

On Tuesday, October 11th, the District Attorney’s Office notified the Sheriff’s Office that they would not be filing criminal charges against the husband. This prompted an internal review of the incident which included reviewing the video from all the deputies’ body worn cameras. Sheriff’s Administration felt that the actions of the primary deputy were excessive for the circumstances and were in violation of our use of force policy. Our use of force policy specifically states that use of force by deputies must be reasonable and appropriate for every situation and in this case we felt this deputy’s use of force was excessive. This deputy is no longer employed by our office.

Once we discovered the violation, we immediately asked the Santa Rosa Police Department to conduct an independent criminal investigation into the deputy’s use of force. The Santa Rosa Police Department, along with the District Attorney’s Office, is conducting that investigation and we are completely cooperating with them.

The Sheriff is deeply concerned over the incident that transpired. We are conducting a thorough investigation of all deputies involved and will take prompt, firm, and appropriate actions in this matter.

We have reached out to the victim in this case and offered our sincere apology. We also want to apologize to our community. The Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office strives to do our absolute best to provide professional public safety services. This is an isolated incident that we are proactively addressing, and does not reflect the values of the Sheriff’s Office.

For further information about the criminal investigation please contact Lt. Mike Lazzarini of the Santa Rosa Police Department at 707-543-3646.

Released by: Sgt. Spencer Crum
Media Inquiries: 707-565-3941

Sonoma County Sheriff's Office
2796 Ventura Ave
Santa Rosa, CA 95403

Emergency: 9-1-1
Non-emergencies: 707-565-2650

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