Former El Dorado County Fire District Employee Facing Assault Charge in Sonoma County

by Placerville Newswire / Mar 05, 2017 / comments

[JULIE JOHNSON, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT]

"(Scott Thorne's) first policing job, in Richmond, ended after 10 months in 2002 while he was the subject of three complaints and a civil rights lawsuit. That case resulted in a $172,500 settlement for the plaintiff, who accused Thorne of using excessive force on a domestic call. In subsequent years, he held a state license to work as an armed security guard, and his jobs included a stint with an El Dorado County fire district....His arrest and prosecution in connection with the Boyes Hot Springs incident, which resulted from a domestic violence call, could represent an unprecedented move in Sonoma County. Chief Deputy District Attorney Brian Staebell said there’s been no similar case in recent memory involving criminal prosecution of an officer for an on-duty incident."

A former Sonoma County Sheriff’s deputy who could face trial on a felony charge of assaulting a Sonoma Valley man he was trying to detain five months ago was hired by the county despite his checkered and limited job history with two other law enforcement agencies, a Press Democrat investigation has found.

Scott Thorne, 40, was arrested and charged in January with felony assault by an officer, marking an exceptionally rare case in Sonoma County involving prosecution of a law enforcement officer for an on-duty incident.

Thorne, a Walnut Creek resident, left the Sheriff’s Office within weeks of the Sept. 24 altercation, where prosecutors say he used a stun gun on the Boyes Hot Springs man as he lay in his own bed, then struck the man with his baton.

Thorne, who has pleaded not guilty, began his career in law enforcement 15 years ago, but before he joined the Sheriff’s Office in 2015, his work history as a sworn officer totaled less than two years, employment records obtained by the Press Democrat show.

His first policing job, in Richmond, ended after 10 months in 2002 while he was the subject of three complaints and a civil rights lawsuit. That case, also involving two other Richmond officers, resulted in a $172,500 settlement for the plaintiff, who accused Thorne of using excessive force on a domestic call.

In subsequent years, he held a state license to work as an armed security guard, and his jobs included a stint with an El Dorado County fire district.

He landed a job as a correctional deputy with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s department in 2007, but he was dismissed a year later, records show.

Thorne was studying at the University of California Hastings School of Law in San Francisco when he was started as an unpaid reserve deputy in Sonoma County two years ago. He became a full-time, paid deputy in April.

His arrest and prosecution in connection with the Boyes Hot Springs incident, which resulted from a domestic violence call, could represent an unprecedented move in Sonoma County. Chief Deputy District Attorney Brian Staebell said there’s been no similar case in recent memory involving criminal prosecution of an officer for an on-duty incident...

On Sept. 24, Thorne and two other deputies went to a Highland Boulevard house to investigate a neighbor’s call about a loud argument. Once inside, one deputy interviewed a woman while Thorne went to a back bedroom where he found an uncooperative man unwilling to get off the bed. Thorne grabbed the man, deployed a stun gun, and when that was ineffective, hit him with a baton in the leg, authorities said...

The Boyes Hot Springs man hasn’t been identified by name. His Santa Rosa-based attorney, Izaak Schwaiger, said he’s a former Marine, honorably discharged, a former police officer and a “regular guy.”...

Schwaiger said the body camera videos from the deputies show Thorne created a volatile situation in the bedroom.

“He doesn’t ask a single question” when he comes into the room, Schwaiger said. “He kicks the door off its hinges, comes in the room, commands my client to get up. My client plainly says, ‘I’m calling my lawyer. I’m not being aggressive. I’m not doing anything wrong’ … and within seconds he’s being beaten.”...

His job as a Sonoma County deputy was Thorne’s third in law enforcement that ended within a year while he was still on probation, a trial period when the employer can terminate a new hire without cause. That means he left three policing jobs before earning a basic peace officer certificate from the state’s Peace Officer Standards and Training commission...

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