Officer Christopher Melton, a nine-year veteran of Ceres Police Department, has been placed on administrative leave as he faces criminal misdemeanor charges of assault by an officer under color of authority.
This charge arises out of an incident that occurred on April 13, 2013 when Ceres Police Officers took a suspect into custody at the 1600 block of Evans Road. A subsequent investigation questioning the amount of force used by Officer Melton during the incident commenced after another Ceres officer reported suspected misconduct to agency supervisors.
Melton was placed on paid administrative leave, pending the outcome of the criminal and internal affairs investigations. The internal affairs investigation, which covers issues such as compliance with agency policies, procedures, and standards of conduct, is ongoing and no further information will be released at this time. The criminal investigation is separate and distinct, and accordingly, Ceres Police Department submitted the criminal case to the Stanislaus County District Attorney's Office. The District Attorney's Office will not be commenting on the matter.
"While these circumstances, as reported, are very unfortunate, it is highly appropriate that what took place on April 13 is being handled by the District Attorney's Office," said Ceres Police Chief Art deWerk. "Officer Melton's conduct, as alleged, does not reflect the values of Ceres Police Department or the law enforcement community as a whole. The fact that this incident was reported and is being examined in the context of criminal law, and internal departmental procedures, reminds us that the system does and can work to retain the public trust."
Melton has had prior conflicts with the department. He was one of the officers who allegedly inflicted excessive force on party goers during a 2007 loud party call in the 3100 block of Burton Drive. Allegations included that police dragged a woman out of the house by her hair and pepper-sprayed a handcuffed man.
Shortly after Melton's experience during the shooting death of Sgt. Howard Stevenson in January 2005, police officials say he failed probation. A psychological report noted that Melton exhibits fits of temper and used curse words in the presence of members of the public and coworkers. He regained his job after suing the city of Ceres in 2006.
Melton was with Officer Sam Ryno the night he was critically wounded when shot at by Andres Raya at George's Liquors the night of Jan. 5, 2005. Melton pulled Ryno to safety before Raya turned on Stevenson and fatally shooting him in the head.