MENDOCINO Co., 3/10/20 — The Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office (SCSO) is investigating an incident within Mendocino County, in which a Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office deputy is alleged to have overdosed on illegal drugs, likely opioids, and to have been in possession of additional illicit substances.
According to the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO), a call for emergency treatment was made yesterday, Monday, and on-duty MCSO deputies recognized the address of the call as belonging to an off-duty deputy in Fort Bragg. The on-duty deputies went to the address, where they found the off-duty deputy being administered medical aid, including naloxone (NARCAN) a treatment for opioid overdose. The deputy was receptive to the NARCAN treatment. Drug use “paraphernalia” was also spotted at the residence, as well as illicit drugs.
At this point Sheriff Matt Kendall was contacted. Kendall in turn contacted the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office, and asked that they conduct the investigation, to “preserve the integrity of this investigation.” SCSO will conduct the investigation and then hand over results to the Mendocino County District Attorney.
The deputy was taken to the hospital where he is recovering. He is currently on paid administrative leave. Concerning the question of charges that the deputy may face, Kendall explained in a brief interview that given that the investigation is being conducted entirely by the SCSO, he could not comment. He also noted that under California’s “911 Good Samaritan law” people seeking medical help during an overdose may be exempted from a drug possession charge — this being an effort to make people experiencing a medical emergency feel comfortable in calling for assistance.
Sonoma County sent at least a detective and a detective sergeant to the scene, who will be conducting the investigation. It is not uncommon for smaller counties to outsource internal affairs investigations to a neighboring county. Mendocino has done this with Lake, and vice versa, and Mendocino has previously asked Sonoma to conduct such investigations. Said Kendall, “We will generally farm it out to a neighboring agency because it helps us survive that daylight test.” On the question of internal disciplinary action he was not, “going to throw out opinions until I have 100% of the facts.” Sonoma, which has a much larger population is is far wealthier, has their own internal affairs department.
We will follow up as more details emerge, here is the press release from the MCSO — notably this press release was written by Kendall himself, a rarity:
DATE: “March 10, 2020”
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Medical Aid Assistance
Fort Bragg, California
Date of Incident:
Sheriff Matthew C. Kendall #2316
On 03-09-2020 at about 8:33 PM, on-duty deputies from the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office overheard radio traffic of a medical emergency at a residence in Fort Bragg, California.
Deputies recognized the address as the home of an off-duty Mendocino County Deputy Sheriff. A Mendocino County Sheriff’s Sergeant responded to the location along with EMS personnel.
Upon arrival, EMS personnel were administering life saving techniques including NARCAN. The deputy was transported to a local hospital, where he is expected to recover.
While at the scene, the Sheriff’s Sergeant noticed drug paraphernalia as well as suspected illicit drugs in the residence. Based on the circumstances the sergeant believed this medical emergency was possibly a drug overdose.
Mendocino County Sheriff Matt Kendall was contacted while personnel were on scene and briefed on the situation.
In order to preserve the integrity of this investigation, Sheriff Kendall contacted the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office requesting they investigate this case. The Sonoma County Narcotics team was assigned this investigation and responded to Mendocino County where they took over this investigation. A search warrant was obtained through the Mendocino County Superior Court and was served by the Sonoma County detectives.
Currently this investigation is continuing and upon completion will be reviewed by the Mendocino County District Attorney’s Office.
The Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office wants to be as transparent as possible during this investigation; however this is an active investigation. The Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office is deeply concerned this incident can cause degradation of public trust within our community.
Additional information will be released to the public when the investigation has been completed by the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office.
The deputy involved in this incident has been placed on paid administrative leave, pursuant with department policy. Detectives from the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office are currently working the criminal investigation, while detectives from the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office Professional Standards Bureau will completed the internal affairs investigation.
The Mendocino County District Attorney’s Office will review the criminal investigation to determine the presence of any criminal violations.
Sheriff Matthew C. Kendall #2316