Sonoma County Sheriff's Office Investigating Accusations Deputy Used Excessive Force

The Sonoma County Sheriff's Office has launched an internal probe after a deputy is accused of using excessive force, sheriff's officials said Thursday.

Authorities said the deputy is no longer employed by the sheriff's office, which has also requested the Santa Rosa Police Department hold an independent criminal investigation.

Authorities said the investigation stems from a domestic dispute call on Sept. 24. Three deputies were sent to a home in Sonoma Valley after a caller reported her neighbors were involved in a loud argument.

The deputies then entered the home after a woman opened the front door. A deputy took the woman into a room for questioning and the other two deputies went to search for her 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," the sheriff's office said in a press release. "Once inside the bedroom, the husband was found lying on a bed. The deputy ordered the husband to stand up, but the man refused."

Authorities said the deputy grabbed the man's arm, who pulled away. The deputy then deployed his Taser, but it had little effect, according to sheriff's officials.

The following excerpt from a sheriff's office press release describes what happened next:

"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."

After deputies conducted an investigation for domestic violence, they determined it had only been a non-criminal, domestic-related argument.

Sheriff's officials said the man was taken to a local hospital where he was treated for his injuries. He was later transported and booked into the Sonoma County Jail on charges of threatening an officer, resisting and obstructing an officer, and battery on an officer, authorities said.

The man was released after posting $10,000 bail.

On Oct. 11, the District Attorney's Office said criminal charges will not be filed against the husband, prompting an in internal review of the incident.

The internal probe included reviewing video from all 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," the sheriff's office said in a statement. "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."

Sheriff's officials said they have reached out and apologized to the victim.

"We also want to apologize to our community," the sheriff's office said in a statement. "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."

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