Placer County deputy and correctional officers charged in jailhouse abuse case


Two correctional officers and a deputy were arrested Wednesday in connection with an investigation into abuse of jailhouse inmates, the Placer County sheriff announced.

Placer County Sheriff’s Deputy Robert Madden and two jail officials, Sgt. Megan Yaws and Officer Jeffrey Villanueva, became subjects of the investigation following allegations of excessive force used against inmates at the county’s main jail in Auburn, Sheriff Devon Bell said in a written statement on the agency’s Facebook page.

“I lead an agency that has too many ‘finest hours’ to count, but unfortunately this is not one of them,” he said.


A supervisor discovered the abuse while reviewing jailhouse video footage, Bell said. After watching the footage, the supervisor notified top sheriff’s officials, who launched the investigation.

During the review, authorities uncovered other incidents and requested the assistance of the Placer County district attorney’s office.

Authorities determined the deputy and officers’ actions “appeared unreasonable,” the sheriff said.

Madden is charged with four counts of assault under color of authority without necessity and three counts of falsifying an incident report, Bell said. Villanueva faces one count of assault under the color of authority without necessity and one count of falsifying an incident report. Yaws is charged with one count of falsifying police reports.

They have been placed on administrative leave, Bell said.

Bell expressed sadness over the incident.

“Please hear me when I tell you, under no circumstances will unethical or illegal conduct be tolerated under my watch,” he said. “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.”

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