SANTA ROSA (CBS SF) — The trial of a former Sonoma County sheriff’s deputy charged with assault by a public officer of a 37-year-old Sonoma Valley man in his home in 2016 ended Monday morning with a hung jury.
The Sonoma County Superior Court jury was deadlocked 8-4 in favor of acquitting 41-year-old Scott Thorne. The jury deliberated briefly Thursday and resumed deliberations around 9:30 a.m. Monday before reporting it was deadlocked around 11 a.m.
Thorne was charged with assaulting Fernando Del Valle with a baton and shooting him twice with a Taser stun gun when Del Valle refused to get out of bed in the bedroom of his home in Boyes Hot Springs.
A neighbor called the sheriff’s office around 10:30 p.m. on Sept. 24, 2016, when she heard Del Valle and his wife arguing. Three deputies responded and the assault was recorded by a deputy’s body camera.
The sheriff’s office announced in October 2016 that the body camera video showed Thorne used excessive force for the circumstances, that he violated the office’s use of force policy and said he was no longer employed by the sheriff’s office.
In his opening statement to the jury, Deputy District Attorney Robert Waner said Del Valle was beaten and subjected to a humiliating arrest in front of his neighbors. He said Thorne lacked “the soft skills of patience and restraint” and he used force without lawful necessity.
Thorne’s attorney Chris Andrian said by not complying with Thorne’s demands to open the door and get out of bed, Del Valle forfeited his right to privacy. He said Del Valle was actively resisting arrest and Thorne was responding to the circumstances as he was trained.
After the mistrial, Andrian said the split verdict reflects the mood of the country on police use of force.
“People have different views. Their feelings are not the same,” Andrian said.
The jury’s foreperson, who did not want to be identified, said deliberations were “quite heated and emotional” from the beginning.
“Everyone agreed there was bad policing, the situation was not handled well and Fernando (Del Valle) was a challenging individual,” the juror said.
“We all couldn’t agree whether the assault was justified,” she said.
After the verdict, the case was transferred to a different department, and a hearing is scheduled next Monday on whether the prosecution will retry the case.
Waner did not comment on the mistrial Monday morning.
Del Valle has also filed a civil suit against Sonoma County over the incident.
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