Judge Drops Charges Against Placer County Sergeant in Inmate Abuse Case

ROSEVILLE -- A Placer County judge has dropped the charges against a Placer County Jail sergeant accused of covering up the abuse of inmates at the jail.

Around one year ago, jail supervisor Sgt. Megan Yaws, Deputy Robert Madden and Officer Jeffery Villanueva were arrested after a review of a videotape showed inmates being beaten at the Placer County Jail.

Beau Bangert was one of six inmates who were allegedly abused.

"They put me in a chair and I lost circulation in my hands and they had striked me in the face like ten times," Bangert said.

The charges against Yaws were less severe and included filing a false report. That was later changed to being an accessory to the use of excessive force.

"They vilified her, made her out to be something she is not," said defense attorney Jonathan Gonzales.

Gonzales, who is representing Yaws, said the sheriff and prosecutors jumped the gun after the arrests without the necessary evidence.

"They had to go ahead and proceed forward with it knowing that it was probably going to be dismissed," Gonzales said.

That’s exactly what happened in a preliminary hearing Wednesday, a proceeding that only requires minimal probable cause to go forward.

But Gonzales says the damage is done.

"Even though she is innocent she probably has no career in law enforcement from now on and that was her lifelong goal," Gonzales said. "So she's pretty much, in my opinion, she’s ruined in that field."

In the aftermath of the arrests, numerous lawsuits were filed against the county by alleged victims. At least one was settled for $100,000.

In addition, procedures at the jail were tweaked to prevent a repeat of any kind of abuse.

The sheriff’s office disagreed with the judge's decision to dismiss Yaws' case, saying she would not be re-hired. They released a statement saying: "... This dismissal in no way affects our decision to terminate Ms. Yaws. The behavior uncovered through our internal investigation does not meet the standards expected by the Placer County Sheriff's Office."

This may not be the end of the legal process for Yaws.

"She has a few options to her and her and I need to sit down and figure out what legal remedies are available to her," Gonzales said.

Meanwhile, the Placer County District Attorney’s office said it respectfully disagrees with the judge’s decision and says it’s looking at further legal options it has regarding the case.