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Sacramento Woman Alleges Abuse at the Hands of Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office Deputies at Board of Supervisors Meeting

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Kelli Johnson’s testimony begins at 1:11:30

33-year-old Kelli Johnson spoke directly to the Mendocino County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday, September 12, 2023, alleging she was a recent victim of abuse and constitutional violations by deputies and corrections officers of the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office.

Johnson whose LinkedIn profile indicates she is an attorney who specializes in environmental law working for the California Air Resources Control Board told the Board that she “was the recipient of a free VIP tour of the brutal and inhumane conditions at the Mendocino County Jail. I got to see first-hand a litany of egregious constitutional violations.”

Johnson held a sign as she spoke with a number of photographs of her bruised limbs that were allegedly a result of her run-in with MCSO deputies. 

Her experience began on the afternoon of Tuesday, September 5, 2023, when she was in the town of Mendocino “walking to the beach with nothing but the clothes on my back and a glass of water” when an MCSO deputy purportedly “snatched the glass from my hand and smashed it into the street.”

She claimed the deputy “shoved me into the back of a police car” and she was “sent on a grueling three-hour journey” to the Ukiah Jail. 

During the drive, she was “severely dehydrated and begged for water” and the deputies reportedly refused to hydrate her. Johnson claimed to have been suffering a bladder infection and had to urinate. She told the Board of Supervisors that the deputy told her he would not stop the vehicle and her only option was to urinate in the seat.

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She described that process: “…since my hands were cuffed behind my back I had to struggle to scootch my sweatpants down inch by inch and lean my butt over the bucket seat and urinate on the floor, twice.”

Johnson said she was unable to pull her pants back up because of the handcuffs and upon arrival at the Mendocino County Jail, “my pants were still down and when the car door was opened my genitalia was exposed to half a dozen officers gathered to see the show.”

She alleged a litany of force used by deputies to transfer her into her holding cell. Johnson said they “chained my feet, “dragged me out of the car”, :slamm[ed] me into a wall”, “pinned me to the wall”, “twisted my wrists so hard it almost broke”, and “dragged me… by the chain of my handcuffs”.

Johnson was reportedly housed in a small cell used for solitary confinement next to “a small cup of water and a grate full of piss” without shoes, her glasses, or underwear. 

At shift change, Johnson reported the night staff’s treatment of her was like “day and night”. She said, “The nighttime officers came onto the scene and they took these broken shattered pieces that remained of me and swept me up, gave me a sweatshirt, they took me to the crisis clinic and they brought me back to myself.”

As her comment to the Board of Supervisors concluded, she claimed to have woken up at 4:00 a.m. and driven from Sacramento to the town of Mendocino where the Board was holding the meeting “to tell you to your face that this has to end now. It is incumbent upon you to root out this ingrained culture of toxic abuse.” Johnson said, “The Mendocino Sheriff’s daytime officers do not serve and protect. They traumatize and torture.”

She demanded “that the next meeting you have this agendized on it and I would like a list of concrete actions that you are taking to ameliorate these horrible, egregious violations of the supreme law of the land.” 

Her speech ended, many attendees of the meeting applauded, and District 1 Supervisor Glenn McGourty and the Board Chair simply said, “Okay, so I was not expecting that.”

Mendocino County Sheriff Matt Kendall told us that in the days following Johnson’s public comment, he has received a number of responses from residents of Mendocino County.

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He could not comment on particulars of Johnson’s claims citing that it was still under active investigation. He could be more open about the particulars once the Mendocino County District Attorney’s Office has followed through with their prosecutorial efforts.

Kelli Johnson [Mugshot from the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office Booking Logs]

The booking logs from Tuesday, September 5, 2023, indicate Johnson was arrested for misdemeanor disorderly conduct: under the influence of drugs/alcohol.

Sheriff Kendall is mandated to investigate each and every complaint his department receives using tools such as audio and video surveillance technology to corroborate complainants’ claims.  

Sheriff Kendall did say that “it is absolutely wrong that anyone cast judgment when they don’t have both sides of the story.” He added, “We live in a time where anything that is said about law enforcement is immediately jumped on. We need to reserve judgments until we have all of the facts.” 

Sheriff Kendall went on to say, “I’m absolutely appalled by the round of applause, anybody who rushes to publicly make judgments against anyone, I hope they are just as eager to publicly apologize.” 


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19 COMMENTS

  1. Hard to believe that not one person locally has commented. I grew up on Fort Bragg, California. Was traumatized watching officer Tom Sly and Peter Hoyle beat my sister at age 10. I remember good officers such as Porter the walk about cop on Ft Bragg. Or officer Tiller who consoled me in ’96 in Willits when I my daughter passed away. (One month prior losing his own daughter to S.I.D.S) . Or even recently meeting a wonderful new officer named beak on the coast. ( not knowing anything about me he judged and treated me as one should by my actions) hats off to sir. You reminded me we should focus on being Humane Beings. Not Human beings. To top it off Dear Corrupt Leo officers: Ricky Del Fiorentino was more a man than all your Rico Suava butts could handle. You know he was a friendly fire if you call what you are friendly!

  2. This was the same meeting where the BOS went over the grand jury report and was acknowledging some Depts within Mendocino County are having severe problems with toxic Mgmt culture and accountability issues. Why would just one more unaccountable Dept in Mendocino county be a surprise? In this case, the Sheriff’s office; another locally elected head that only answers to himself. The BOS literally has little to no direct control over the Sheriff or the dept.

  3. Mendocino county (the taxpayers) have paid out a few wrongful death settlements over the years because of deputies actions in the jail.

  4. It makes you wonder what kind of a place we are living in here in Mendo. I agree with “Curious” not all police officers or sheriff’s deputies are bad, in fact the bad ones are hopefully in the minority, but in this county we have had so many incidents and now this.
    The Sheriff’s department absorbs 31% of the county budget. Since the Supervisors are responsible for the budget, that must include whether or not the county is being served by those hired as LEO at such great expense. If there is no provision for judging their performance we need to create one, ASAP.

  5. Hey, Sheriff Kendall, easy fix suggestion. If your officers did no wrong then release all body cam footage & jailhouse footage, without redaction & muting, & prove her & the public wrong! You pigs are constantly lying, violating rights & abusing your undeserved power. Power given & funded by the public! Be better you f^*king cowards!

    • Absolutely agree. If the allegations are false it should be easy to prove.

      Also, Matt LeFever why include a booking photo of the victim and no pics of the perps? Residents of Mendocino County need to know who to watch out for.

  6. I support Sheriff Kendall’s response to not rush to judgement on the Sacramento woman’s complaints. The Sheriff’s Department has a lot on their plate with criminal cartels in the vast rural areas of Mendocino county growing cannabis with slave labor, destroying the environment and bring meth , herorin and fentanyl to market destroying many lives. And a ridiculous car side show to 300 vehicles running rampant in Covelo. Time to pull together .

  7. Well the ball is in the Sheriff’s court, how is he planning to reply to these accusations? What proof will he use to support his claim that she is lying? I smell a lawsuit and a settlement. The already strapped mendo county will be paying out more money it can’t afford too.

    • “ What proof will he use to support his claim that she is lying? “
      Based on the article, it sounds like they have audio and video.

  8. About time people….. The UPD seems like they are getting there s#&t together, now time for the MCSO to follow suit. Before they end up costing all of us money in taxes wasted paying out a civil rights case settlement that’s BOUND TO COME if they don’t change their policies or methods……OFFICERS! IDK. I DO know that the MCSO are a different breed. They have most CERTAINLY violated my rights, as well as WITNESSING them violate my friends rights as well. I have thought of law enforcement as a career, if only the job really was JUST to PROTECT and SERVE public safety. Instead I’m society today, it is incriminate and incarcerate. Focus is supposed to be on a remedy right? Rehabilitation, I thought. They say that, but the actions of the MCSO don’t support that. I think it says something for our society, or at least our government, when am ex-president and potential, even PROBABLE, Presidential candidate is being charged the same charges our government used against Al Capone to bring down the mob. Organized crime. So that there should tell you something. The government IS the mob re-vamped! Well, history tells us, our reign is not gonna last. I fear the end is coming for our beautiful nation unless we make drastic changes and immediately. Unfortunately I KNOW that will never happen under current government. If I’m not mistaken, around, 200 years is about the longest lasting civilizations and we’re going on 250. You know what they say history always repeats itself….. Think about it huh

    • Perhaps I’ve misunderstood the purpose of using body and dash cams ~ aren’t they mandated specifically to shed light (bright light) on JUST such controversies?

      Please, can someone tell me why the release of such footage would be delayed ~ seems like if the officers in question would be exonerated by making the films accessible, they’d have gone viral by now…I truly hope I’m wrong..

      • Body and dash cam footage is usually delayed in it’s release due to internal investigations regarding allegations of abuse of power. In the weeks coming I can suspect that there will be a release of sorts regarding the footage. There is still an review that needs to be done by supervising officers.

  9. I believe everything this woman is saying I grew up in mendecino county and know for a fact the law in enforcement abusing there power officers do not serve and protect. They traumatize and torture. Then laugh at the incarcerated and treat them in a way that is unacceptable and unhealthy..

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Matt LaFever
Matt LaFeverhttps://mendofever.com/
I have been an Emerald Triangle resident since 2006 and this is year ten in Mendocino County. Please, email me at matthewplafever@gmail.com if you know a story that needs to be told.

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