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Santa Rosa CHP plans internal investigation on officer accused of threatening neighbor with gun

The Santa Rosa CHP will conduct an internal investigation into allegations that one of its off-duty officers threatened a neighbor with a gun and then broke into his house, an agency spokesman said Sunday.

Jeremy Finnerty, 47, was drunk, yelling expletives and holding a gun when Santa Rosa police responded to multiple 911 calls and found him standing in a neighbor’s driveway at 10 p.m. Friday, Santa Rosa Police Sgt. Matt Clark said.

Several neighbors in the neighborhood off Summerfield Road in east Santa Rosa had called police to report a man was running down the street with a gun. The sighting followed the boom-sizzle sound of what many people in the neighborhood said were fireworks.

One of the 911 callers reported someone had broken into a house. Another 911 call came from Finnerty, who yelled at a dispatcher, according to Clark. The substance of his statements to the dispatcher weren’t available Sunday, and Finnerty did not immediately return messages.

Brandishing a handgun, Finnerty apparently threatened a neighbor who was outside his garage preparing to move his wife’s car, Clark said.

The man fled in the car.

Police suspect Finnerty went around to the back of the house and broke a glass door while a woman inside - whose husband had been threatened by Finnerty moments earlier - fled out the front door and ran down the street, according to Clark.

An officer who arrived to the scene quickly got Finnerty to hand over the weapon, but Finnerty didn’t immediately surrender, delaying officers in their effort to determine whether there was an armed burglar inside the house, Clark said.

Officers, including members of the SWAT team who happened to be working that night, eventually took Finnerty into custody and searched the home, finding the broken door but no one else inside, Clark said.

Separate from the criminal investigation handled by Santa Rosa police, the CHP will conduct an internal affairs investigation into Finnerty’s actions that night.

Finnerty had not been working due to an injury and was on leave at the time of his arrest, CHP spokesman Officer David duRutte said.

No more information about Finnerty’s work with the CHP was available Sunday.

“The department will be conducting an internal investigation into that evening,” duRutte said in an email. “These are very serious charges. We don’t take them lightly and we are extremely glad nobody was injured.”

On Friday night, Finnerty was booked into Sonoma County Jail on suspicion of brandishing a firearm, making criminal threats, residential burglary, vandalism, public intoxication and resisting arrest. His bail was set at $50,000.

He was no longer in custody by Saturday afternoon. He’s scheduled to appear in court on the charges Tuesday.

You can reach Staff Writer Julie Johnson at 707-521-5220 or julie.johnson@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter @jjpressdem.

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