Sacramento Sheriff Scott Jones has agreed to a settlement after a federal judge ruled a public figure cannot ban people from commenting on their Facebook page. The settlement announcement was made on Thursday afternoon. Jones was sued a year ago by two Sacramento area activists with Black Lives Matter and the Liberation Collective for Black Sacramento after he blocked them on what he calls his personal and political page.
The Sheriff will pay BLM Sacramento's Tanya Faison and Sonia Lewis with LCBS a total of $16,000 each, and he's agreed to establish social media policies protecting free speech on his Facebook account. He will also have to pay their legal fees, and he'll have to unblock all accounts from his Facebook page.
Jones said Thursday that there were several reasons for settling the case instead of letting it go to court. Not least of his concerns was the prolonged legal process that was likely due to affect on the California court system from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Both Faison and Lewis posted highly critical comments regarding the handling of use-of-force incidents at the Sacramento Sheriff's Office's and the Sheriff's actions to block public oversight of the investigation into the 2017 shooting death of an unarmed black man, Mikel McIntyre, by deputies on Highway 50 at Zinfandel Road in Rancho Cordova. Former Sacramento Police Chief Rick Braziel was also banned from commenting on Jones' Facebook page and prevented from entering the Sacramento Sheriff's Office after Braziel issued a damning report on the McIntyre incident.
McIntyre was hit by multiple bullets while trying to run away following an attack on the deputies with large river rocks, and at least one of the deputies sustained a head injury during the assault. McIntyre was reportedly suffering from mental illness at the time.
The settlement comes on the same day that sheriff’s office officials were forced to release footage of the shooting in response to a legal challenge by the Sacramento Bee. That video is available below.
Jones has repeatedly supported his deputies and insisted they did nothing wrong. That assessment was backed by the Sacramento County District Attorney, Anne Marie Schubert, who concluded the shooting was justified.