Former Chico Police Officer Charged With Assault For Choking Man During Arrest

Dec 21, 2017

A Chico police sergeant who retired as an investigation got underway is facing a misdemeanor assault charge after allegedly choking a suspect who was retrained by handcuffs.

The charge was filed Wednesday against Sgt. Scott Ruppel by Butte County District Attorney Mike Ramsey. Ruppel served for 20 years on the force, prior to his abrupt retirement Sept. 14. Ruppel was scheduled to appear before internal affairs investigators the same day.

According to a press release from the Butte County District Attorney’s Office, the victim in the case, 21-year-old Michael Rowley, suffered no injuries. Officers were responding to a dispute between Rowley and his father that had turned physical. 

According to Ramsey, after initially brandishing a machete, Rowley mostly complied with officers but exchanged words with Ruppel once he was handcuffed and being belted into a patrol vehicle. Ramsey said body camera footage showed Ruppel choking Rowley for about eight seconds while audio captured Ruppel saying, "We are not going to tolerate this."

Rowley was sentenced to three years felony probation. Ruppel faces a maximum $10,000 fine and up to a year in county jail.