The Sacramento Sheriff’s Office, responding to inquiries from The Sacramento Bee, has released disciplinary records involving a sergeant’s controversial arrest of a man for public intoxication in his own garage. This release, following a query about the office’s compliance with state law, sheds light on the internal disciplinary process within the Sheriff’s Office.
The incident in question occurred in February 2020 when deputies responded to a family disturbance call at a residence in Antelope. During the intervention, a man was detained in a deputy vehicle while a woman left the area. The man, after being released, entered his garage and began yelling at the deputies. Sgt. Brannon Polete then decided to arrest him for being drunk in public, an action later questioned due to its legality and appropriateness.
The homeowner filed a complaint about the incident, including security camera footage, prompting an internal investigation. In an interview with investigators, Sgt. Polete justified the arrest by claiming the garage door opening constituted a “public place.” However, footage revealed the man did not attempt to leave the garage. The recording also captured Polete using disparaging and unprofessional language towards the detainee.
Chet Madison, then a chief deputy, reviewed the footage and wrote a letter condemning Polete’s actions. Madison described Polete’s comments and conduct, including unnecessary physical pressure applied after handcuffing the man, as “outright wrong” and “hovering near criminal behavior.” Madison recommended termination for Polete.
Additionally, the involvement of two other deputies was noted. One deputy, who later disabled the garage camera and fist-bumped Polete, received a recommendation for a 20-hour suspension without pay and a transfer. Another deputy turned off his belt microphone during the incident; Madison recommended his termination. Their names and the outcomes of these recommendations were not disclosed in the released documents.
Polete, represented by the Mastagni Law Firm, appealed the termination recommendation. A Skelly hearing led by then-Undersheriff Erik Maness resulted in a decision against firing Polete. Instead, he faced a 160-hour unpaid suspension, demotion to deputy, and a mandatory two-year transfer to work in county jails.
Then-Sheriff Scott Jones approved this revised discipline. Sgt. Amar Gandhi, spokesman for the Sheriff’s Office, declined to comment specifically on the case but stated that the office would continue to comply with the law regarding information release.
The Sacramento Bee’s investigation into this matter highlights ongoing concerns about law enforcement accountability and transparency. Under California’s SB 1421, law enforcement agencies are required to release records in cases involving shootings, severe injuries, dishonesty, sexual assault, or discrimination. Despite recent disclosures, The Bee’s investigation found that approximately 100 incidents involving Sacramento Police Department and Sheriff’s Office officers remain undisclosed, raising questions about compliance with state law.