Judge rules domestic violence case against Ukiah police chief can go to trial

A Mendocino County Superior Court judge ruled Friday that the Ukiah police chief and the county should go to trial in a domestic violence case brought by the chief’s former fiancée.

Amanda Carley, a former Mendocino County deputy probation officer, filed a lawsuit against the county and Chief Noble Waidelich in 2017 after years of alleged domestic abuse. Waidelich, who had received two Officer of the Year awards, was a detective at the time.

Even though he was being prosecuted for alleged domestic violence, Waidelich continued to be promoted to the small-town Northern California police department.

When police department officials first discovered the abuse allegations, Carley denied them. Two years later, when Carley’s daughter told her school counselor about the abuse she had witnessed, the sheriff’s department opened a criminal investigation into the allegations.

Carley said she downplayed the abuse until she moved out of the home the couple bought together and felt safe enough to disclose in detail.

But when she finally reported it to law enforcement, the county decided to separately investigate Carley for deception — the basis on which her probation department supervisor demoted her and confiscated her gun.

During this time, Waidelich was promoted to sergeant. He was not interviewed by the sheriff’s department.

In the complaint, Carley brought 13 actions against the defendants: Waidelich for domestic assault and the county for unjust retaliation.

Waidelich and county prosecutors had argued in recent weeks that Carley and her attorney had let the case languish. They also said the Sept. 26 trial date set by Superior Court Judge Jeanine B. Nadel did not give them enough time to prepare.

Nadel rejected those arguments, saying the defense hadn’t moved forward on the case either, Carley’s attorney Richard Freeman said. Also, the clerk had mistakenly marked Carley’s case as closed and it took six months for it to be reopened.

“It was a real relief,” said Troyle Tognoli, an activist who appeared in court on Friday in support of Carley. “The court took responsibility for its role in the delay, which was just a beautiful thing.”

Freeman said he was reasonably optimistic that the case would progress as expected.

“We need to take a closer look and get to the bottom of these things that touch the pulse of the community,” Tognoli said. “Noble is only rising through the ranks, and what does that say about policing, oversight and transparency?”

County and Waidelich attorneys could not be reached for comment.

“I just want to be able to present the facts and the truth and drop the cards where they can,” Carley said. “That’s all I asked for, and the judge gave us this opportunity.”

Los Angeles Times

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