Former Sonoma County Sheriff’s deputy arrested in alleged on-duty assault
A former Sonoma County Sheriff’s deputy suspected of beating a Boyes Hot Springs man in his home during a domestic dispute call was jailed early Wednesday on suspicion of felony assault by an officer after a three-month investigation into excessive force.
Scott Thorne, 40, of Walnut Creek turned himself in at the Sonoma County Jail just after 12 a.m. after learning the Sonoma County District Attorney’s office secured a warrant for his arrest. Thorne was released about two hours later on $10,000 bail, sheriff’s spokesman Sgt. Spencer Crum said.
Thorne, reached by phone Wednesday, declined to comment or provide the name of an attorney. He’s scheduled to be arraigned Jan. 17 on the felony charge.
Thorne’s actions came under suspicion about two weeks after the Sept. 24 incident when prosecutors reviewed deputies’ body camera recordings and declined to file charges against the Boyes Hot Springs resident, a 37-year-old Marine Corps veteran and former law enforcement officer who was arrested after the incident for resisting officers. That led Sheriff’s Office supervisors to review the recordings, including footage that raised concerns about Thorne’s actions, sheriff’s officials said.
Soon after, Thorne left the job. State law prevents the county from saying whether he resigned or was fired.
Sheriff Steve Freitas, responding through spokesman Crum, said his office “initiated the criminal investigation (into Thorne) and fully cooperated with investigators.”
“Sheriff Freitas … accepts the decision of the D.A.” to charge Thorne with felony assault, Crum said.
The case has led the Sheriff’s Office to change some of its oversight practices. Supervisors are now required to review all incidents when deputies report force was used or a person resisted arrest. Previously, not every case was reviewed.
Two other deputies who responded with Thorne to the Highland Boulevard house Sept. 24 after a neighbor’s 911 call — reporting what sounded like an argument — remain on duty.
Crum said the Sheriff’s Office is still in the midst of an internal review of the actions of the deputies, Beau Zastrow and Anthony Diehm. That review is focused on whether they followed department policy and does not include Thorne.
After reviewing evidence in the case, prosecutors have not yet found probable cause that Zastrow or Diehm committed any crimes, Sonoma County Chief Deputy District Attorney Brian Staebell said. He stopped short of saying the investigation into their actions was over. Police have said they were investigating potential excessive force as well as the integrity of written police reports.
“We’re not filing charges, as of today, on the other two deputies,” Staebell said.
The Boyes Hot Springs man captured some of the ordeal on his cellphone, and that video has been given to Santa Rosa police and District Attorney’s investigators, according to his attorney Izaak Schwaiger. He declined to share the recording with The Press Democrat or identify his client.
The man is still recovering from injuries sustained when he was beaten and repeatedly shocked with a stun gun, according to Schwaiger.
“There’s also the psychological trauma when someone comes into your own home, into your bedroom and commits this kind of violence,” Schwaiger said.
The 911 call came about 10:30 p.m. Sept. 24 from a neighbor who overheard what sounded like a heated argument at the couple’s home, according to the Sheriff’s Office account.