Courts & Crime

Sacramento's would-be sheriff once held by restraining order

A convicted felon won a short-lived restraining order against Sacramento County sheriff's candidate Jim Cooper after accusing him of harassment over a woman both men knew, court records indicate.

The incident occurred in 1999, and the order forbidding Cooper from coming within 100 yards of the parolee was quickly quashed when the Sheriff's Department interceded.adamantly denied the man's claims this week, saying the parolee threatened to kill his partner and that he had never seen the man before the incident.

"Not at all, swear to God," Cooper said of the claim by telephone Monday. "I've made a ton of arrests over there and towed a ton of cars."

Cooper noted that he worked the streets for years, including in dangerous undercover gang details, and said phony complaints are made constantly in such work.

Rumors about the incident have circulated in the department for years.

The case marks another instance in which Cooper has faced questions about his temperament. He previously faced scrutiny by the Sacramento County grand jury over his conduct as an Elk Grove city councilman and whether he improperly took part in debate on issues involving the Sheriff's Department.

He also was the subject of an anonymous sexual harassment complaint within the department after he made a crude remark to a co-worker about another employee.

With Cooper now running for sheriff, The Bee was able to locate the 1999 file in court archives for review.

The complainant, Deon E. Adams, has a criminal record that goes back to 1988, when he faced attempted murder charges. At the time of the 1999 incident, he was on probation on a domestic violence conviction.

Adams continues to claim that Cooper singled him out for harassment because of a mutual acquaintance.

The claim stems from an Aug. 2, 1999, incident during which Cooper and another deputy were patrolling Eagle Park Drive while off duty and working under contract with the Orchard Wood Homeowners' Association, records in Sacramento Superior Court indicate. The neighborhood is near Stockton Boulevard and Gerber Road.

Cooper said in the documents that his run-in with Adams began when he called a tow truck to remove an unregistered vehicle parked on the street. He said he did not know who owned the vehicle at the time.

As the truck was being towed, Adams came out and threatened Cooper's partner, Cooper said in court records.

Cooper said he let Adams go with "a warning not to threaten peace officers and to contact his probation officer," the court records state. In an interview Monday, Cooper said he could not recall why he did not arrest Adams.

The sworn Aug. 13, 1999, statement from Cooper was a response to a harassment complaint Adams filed against Cooper four days earlier, when he requested and received a temporary restraining order against Cooper, court records show.

Adams said in the court papers that he knew Cooper because Cooper was his "ex-girlfriend's current boyfriend."

"Defendant threaten (sic) Deon that he would shoot him in the back of the head with his gun for no reason," Adams wrote in his petition for an "injunction prohibiting harassment."

Cooper denied any wrongdoing in the incident, court papers show, and said he did not threaten or use force against Adams.

He repeated that stance Monday, saying in a telephone interview: "My performance was good. The guy threatened to kill a cop, and we towed his car."

Cooper's partner at the time, Deputy Marlin Meggers, did not respond to a request for comment.

The woman Adams claimed was the trigger for the incident acknowledged that she knew Adams but never dated him. Instead, she said, she was a friend of Adams' girlfriend at the time.

In an interview Monday, Adams said he filed for the restraining order because Cooper had been harassing him by constantly parking in front of his home or driving by it. He added that he believed Cooper was trying to intimidate him because Cooper had learned that Adams had previously dated a woman Cooper knew.

Adams, who represented himself in the court filing, won a restraining order Aug. 10, 1999, but it was dissolved by court order three days later, after the Sheriff's Department filed a petition in court stating that the restraining order was issued by the court "without benefit of knowledge that the Defendant, James Cooper, was at all times described therein a duly authorized and acting Deputy Sheriff. … "

"(Adams) did not reveal to this court that his sole contact with Lieutenant Cooper occurred during a legitimate law enforcement contact in the scope of Lieutenant Cooper's duties on Aug. 2, 1999," wrote Sgt. Glenn N. Powell, legal adviser at the time to then-Sheriff Lou Blanas.

The claim that the court did not know Cooper was a deputy is not accurate. Court records show Adams stated in his petition that he knew Cooper because he was a "Sheriff in the community and ex-girlfriend's current boyfriend."

Read the full story at the Sacramento Bee.