AUBURN, Calif. May 31, 2017 – At a press conference today, Placer County Sheriff Devon Bell released the following statement:
I’m Sheriff Devon Bell. I lead an agency that has too many “finest hours” to count, but unfortunately this is not one of them. The nature of this press conference is to inform you of the arrest of Correctional Sgt. Megan Yaws, Deputy Robert Madden and Correctional Officer Jeffrey Villanueva. They were taken into custody today by investigators from the Placer County Sheriff’s Office. The arrests stemmed from an extensive investigation by the Sheriff’s Office and the Placer County District Attorney’s Office, which focused on allegations of excessive force upon inmates while they were housed in the Placer County Jail in Auburn. Deputy Madden is charged with four counts of assault under color of authority, without necessity, and three counts of falsification of an incident report. C.O. Villanueva is charged with one count of assault under color of authority, without necessity, and one count of falsification of an incident report. C.O. Sgt. Yaws is charged with one count of falsifying police reports. There is video and other evidence to support these arrests.
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The conduct was discovered by a supervisor who was reviewing video footage, and who then brought it to the attention of management. Management discovered other incidents and determined actions of the officers appeared unreasonable. They requested the assistance of the District Attorney’s Office. A joint investigation established probable cause to make the arrests. All three were placed on paid administrative leave. Let me close with saying this is a sad and unfortunate set of circumstances for our organization, law enforcement and the citizens of Placer County.
Please hear me when I tell you, under no circumstances will unethical or illegal conduct be tolerated under my watch. The culture of our organization is founded upon public trust. Our core values determine how we conduct ourselves on- and off-duty, regardless of difficulty; it is the Placer County Sheriff’s Office contract with the community we serve.