State, FBI join investigation into Taser torture

SONOMA, Calif.

Advocates for the intellectually and developmentally disabled are pressuring the Sonoma county district attorney and the sheriff's department for an independent investigation of a Taser incident at the Sonoma Developmental Center last fall. They believe 12 people in that facility were assaulted by someone with a Taser, possibly psychiatric technician assistant Archie Millora. Has was fired and pleaded no contest to an unrelated gun charge but neither the Sonoma County district attorney or the sheriff's office have ever investigated.

Right now, it's in the hands of the Developmental Center's internal police agency, the Office of Protective Services or OPS. "What we really want is the sheriff and the district attorney to do an independent investigation aside from what the OPS does because that's the fox in the henhouse issue," Tony Anderson said.

Anderson is executive director of the ARC, an advocacy group for people with intellectual and emotional disabilities. He says they are making some progress with the DA. "The district attorney, Jill Ravitch, has met with us and she has responded and she has communicated back to attorney general, State Attorney General Kamala Harris and she has been in contact now with the FBI, and we're glad to hear that," he told ABC7 News.

Anderson and other advocates say the Taser investigation shows the needs for changes in the law so possible assaults on the state's most vulnerable are automatically reported to law enforcement. Kathleen Miller's son is in a state facility. She says the Sonoma Developmental Center actually has good state monitoring which also highlights the need for better laws. "If it can happen there, folks, it can happen anywhere. And this incident is the tip of the iceberg," she said.

Right now, there are five bills on the governor's desk that would all help improve protections for the state's disabled on one way or another. One by state Sen. Mark Leno would require that reporting of possible abuse go automatically to outside law enforcement.

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