The Sacramento police officer facing drug and weapons charges after his arrest earlier this month at a local hotel is likely gripped by drug addiction, his attorney said Monday.
Isaac Richard Knutila, 45, and a 16-year department veteran, was arraigned by Sacramento Superior Court Judge Curtis Fiorini on two felony counts including unlawful possession of narcotics while armed and felony possession of an assault weapon that prosecutors alleged Monday was a .223-caliber Ruger Mini-14 semi-automatic rifle. Prosecutors, however, dropped a clutch of misdemeanor narcotics charges.
“We’re really looking at an addiction issue here. It’s further evidence that addiction can strike anybody, at any time, at any station of life,” Knutila’s defense attorney Michael Wise said outside the courtroom at Sacramento County Courthouse downtown.
Wise added that Knutila has been “a good cop for a long time.”
Knutila showed little emotion as Fiorini read the allegations while Knutila’s wife and supporters looked on from the gallery.
Knutila, standing aside Wise in a crisp blue suit at the hearing, did not enter a plea before walking out of the courtroom hand in hand with his wife. Knutila remains free on bail and will return to Fiorini’s courtroom Dec. 15 for further arraignment. Wise asked for more time to review evidence and to discuss a possible resolution with Sacramento County prosecutors.
Police had been tracking Knutila for weeks when they arrested the veteran cop Nov. 4, officials said at a news conference announcing his arrest.
Police officials said Knutila was off duty and carrying his loaded .40-caliber duty pistol when he was arrested with what officers said were “usable” amounts of cocaine, marijuana, methamphetamine and heroin – small amounts that Wise said pointed not to drug dealing, but personal use.
Wise said the rifle was “located in a subsequent search,” and was not in Knutila’s possession.
Internal affairs investigators began their probe Oct. 13 after getting a tip from another law enforcement agency that the patrolman was seen in an area known for prostitution. Knutila had not been charged with prostitution-related crimes, though police officials said an investigation continues.
On Monday, Wise told reporters he had no detailed information on any prostitution allegations.
Knutila remains on administrative leave pending a decision on whether he will be relieved of duty.
The Bee’s Hector Amezcua contributed to this report.