Batterers in Blue

Revolutionary Worker #948, March 15, 1998

Tanya Brannan from the Purple Berets spoke at the February 20 hearings on police brutality in Sonoma County. The Purple Berets is a community group which has spent the last six years monitoring police response to domestic violence. In her testimony about how police handle complaints of domestic violence, Tanya talked about the Macias case.

Teresa Macias was murdered by her husband and batterer in April 1996. The Purple Berets have exposed how Teresa's more than 22 calls for help were ignored by the Sonoma County Sheriff's Department. Tanya also spoke about how the Sonoma County Sheriffs have covered up for batterers inside the department, including the main deputy that was responsible for answering Teresa Macias' calls for assistance. This is an excerpt from Tanya Branna's testimony:

"We also have the issue of the coddling of police officers and prosecutors who are known to be problems. Three recent examples are of particular concern to me. Two brothers, both Sheriff's Deputies, were the subject of domestic violence restraining orders. In one case the restraining order was filed by an ex-girlfriend who reported that the deputy had left a note on her car that said `YOU WILL DIE BITCH!' Although an internal investigation was launched into the incident, Internal Affairs ruled that no department policies had been violated. It was this same deputy who most often blew off Teresa Macias' more than 20 cries for help. Finally, after 10 internal investigations--it was only after the airing of a San Francisco TV station's investigative report that the deputy was fired.

"His brother was also the subject of a restraining order by his wife, whose sworn affidavit details a beating where he ripped off her clothes, dragged her down stairs, and beat her head up and down on the floor until he was finally pulled off of her by her roommate.... No action was taken against this deputy. Only a year later, after a third party reported the violence, and after the same San Francisco TV investigation was aired, was the deputy convicted of felony spousal abuse. In a stunning display of opportunism the District Attorney now holds this case up as an example of how the system is working to protect domestic violence victims.

"In a third case, a Sheriff's Captain was arrested for felony drunk driving when he ran over his wife's head! The Captain, who at the time was in charge of the Patrol Division, which means he virtually runs the Sheriff's Department, was back at work the next day! Prior to being named head of patrol, this same Captain headed up the Internal Affairs Division. In that capacity he presided over the IA investigation of Macias and he also handled the claims of sexual harassment by many female deputies and was in fact the officer named in several of those complaints. It was only after six months of enormous and highly embarrassing public ridicule that any disciplinary action was taken against the captain and then it was only a six-week suspension. He's since retired on a service-related disability due to a hearing problem. I guess he couldn't hear his wife yelling stop."

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