Sacramento police officer facing drug and weapons charges likely has 'addiction issue,' attorney says
A judge sentenced former Sacramento police Officer Isaac Richard Knutila to enter a drug treatment program and serve time on a county work project in connection with the 2016 narcotics and weapons charges that cost him his badge.
The deal, finalized with the Thursday sentencing before Sacramento Superior Court Judge Lawrence Brown, handed Knutila a 150-day sentence – including 90 days in a drug rehabilitation program and 60 days on the work project. He is to report to Brown in April, court officials said Thursday.
Knutila will also be placed on five years’ probation as part of his plea, court officials said.
It is a sentence that acknowledges the ex-cop’s addiction and its underlying cause – post-traumatic stress disorder from years on the beat that drew him into drugs, said Knutila’s attorney Michael Wise.
“The job’s really what drove him down this path,” Wise said Thursday evening. “It’s a good sentence that will allow him to get the treatment he needs.”
Following Knutila’s arraignment on the drug charges, Wise alluded to the former officer’s “addiction issues.” On Thursday, Wise spoke of his client’s “new normal” and the task ahead for Knutila.
“He’s had tremendous family support. It’s his new normal now to address this new chapter of his life,” Wise said. “He’s trying to put it all back together and do a good job.”
The former officer pleaded no contest in October to a felony count each of possessing a controlled substance with a firearm – his .40-caliber duty weapon – and possessing an assault weapon.
Knutila, 46, was a 16-year department veteran and off duty when he was arrested in November 2016 at the Hilton Sacramento Arden West Hotel after a nearly monthlong internal affairs investigation. Knutila patrolled the south city neighborhoods of Lemon Hill, Fruitridge and Power Inn before his Nov. 4, 2016, arrest.
Sacramento police were preparing to sack the veteran patrolman when Knutila resigned from the force in December of that year. Defense attorney Michael Wise would later say Knutila had addiction issues.
Authorities were tipped in October 2016 by another law enforcement agency who said Knutila had been seen frequenting an area where prostitutes worked.
Deputies found Knutila holding what they termed “usable” amounts of heroin, cocaine, marijuana and methamphetamine along with his service weapon when they arrested him in the hotel’s lobby.
A .223-caliber semi-automatic rifle was found in a later search, and wasn’t in Knutila’s possession when he was arrested. Prosecutors later dropped a number of drug-related charges.
A public records request by The Bee revealed that Knutila was involved in more than 80 arrests as either the primary or secondary arresting officer between 2010 and 2016.
But Sacramento County district attorney’s officials in December said they would not reopen prior cases in which Knutila took the witness stand, saying the charges filed against him in 2016 “did not involve issues of dishonesty.”