Jerry Dixon Jr. was accused of pulling a co-worker's hair at the jail in September. He pleaded guilty Monday in Everett District Court to fourth-degree assault, a gross misdemeanor.
Dixon, 44, didn't admit any wrongdoing, but conceded that a jury likely would find him guilty if the case went to trial. He was sentenced to 364 days in jail. A judge suspended all that time as long as Dixon doesn't break the law over the next two years. He also is forbidden from having contact with the victim.
As part of his plea, Dixon agreed to leave his job, Snohomish County deputy prosecutor Michael Boska said.
Sheriff's officials placed Dixon on administrative leave after the allegations surfaced. However, a few weeks ago he was allowed to return to work after being demoted. The criminal case was unresolved at the time.
The criminal and internal investigations were done separately, Snohomish County sheriff's bureau chief Kevin Prentiss said.
"Accommodations were made to ensure that they didn't work around each other," he added.
Court records show that the victim sought an anti-harassment order to keep Dixon away from her after she was told that he'd be returning to work.
Recently, Dixon was placed on administrative leave again after allegations surfaced that he'd violated the court order, Boska said.
As part of the plea negotiations, the deputy prosecutor agreed not to charge Dixon with a crime related to the violation.
The victim supported Monday's resolution, Boska said.
Court papers indicate the incident that led to the charge took place as an officer was ending her graveyard shift at the jail. She walked into an elevator where she was met by Dixon. She said Dixon told her she would have to fix her hair differently when she changed shifts and began reporting to him.
That's when he grabbed the top her head, holding onto her hair and jerking her head to the side, the woman reported.
While there were several witnesses to the discussion about her hair, no one actually saw the hair pulling, court papers said.
In a video of the incident the sergeant could be seen throwing punches toward but not making contact with the officer's face.
"In the video, it is apparent that (the officer) is disoriented by the assault," a sheriff's office detective wrote. "She was supposed to get off the elevator at the first stop and she appears to not be sure where she is supposed to be."
The woman later said that a considerable amount of her hair had been pulled out.
Operations at the jail have come under scrutiny in recent months after several deaths there. Two of the deaths have resulted in pending legal claims against the county alleging that inmates were denied basic medical care.
Sheriff's officials recently announced that they've asked the federal government to review operations and medical services at the jail. The sheriff's office took over operating the jail in 2008.
Diana Hefley: 425-339-3463; firstname.lastname@example.org.
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