Tehama County Will Pay Nearly 500K For Actions Of Two Deputies In 2015

Tehama County has agreed to pay nearly a Half Million Dollars to a Red Bluff man for the actions of two members of the Tehama County Sheriff’s Department. Attorneys for 65-year-old Michael Murchison say his constitutional rights were violated and excessive force was used in what amounted to a wild goose chase. In 2015, the sheriff’s office was given a tip that Murchison was in possession of a handgun that he had illegally due to a prior felony conviction. The tip was eventually discredited and even if he had a handgun, it would not have been illegal because his record had been expunged decades ago. Unaware of this, Detective Jeff Garrett and Sergeant Richard Knox went to Murchison’s property in an unmarked car dressed in plain clothes. Murchison didn’t know they were law enforcement but thought they looked threatening so he wrote down their license plate number and called 9-1-1. As he was making the call, Garrett and Knox noticed a rifle outside the house on a bench rest and started toward it. Murchison, concerned they would steal the rifle or use it against him, started running toward it. He was then apprehended at gunpoint and driven to the ground. He claims they never identified themselves and it was only when he was face down with a knee in his back that he realized they were law enforcement. Traumatized and injured, he filed suit, saying they had no warrant and no justification for being there. The suit was denied by the trial court but a court of appeals ruled in his favor. The county settled for $480,000 but wanted payment to be contingent on a non-disclosure agreement, which Murchison refused.