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Jorge Araiza

Hamilton County sheriff's deputies arrested one of their own after he allegedly slapped a woman across her back, according to local court records.

Deputy Jorge Araiza was arrested Friday night and charged with simple domestic assault.

Araiza did not return a request for comment Wednesday.

According to Hamilton County court records, deputies were called to a home in the 7800 block of Saylor Lane in Hixson just after 7 p.m. Once there, they referred the call to a sheriff's office criminal investigations division detective.

It's not clear what led to the alleged altercation, but the investigation "concluded incident became physical," court records state.

The alleged victim reportedly told the detective that Araiza "slapped her across her back just below the shoulder blades." The detective noted there were no visible injuries and the woman did not request medical attention, according to court records.

When the detective questioned Araiza, he said "he was intoxicated and did not remember what happened," the detective noted in the criminal affidavit.

The sheriff's office declined to comment Wednesday, but in a Friday news release, spokesperson Matt Lea said Araiza had been with the sheriff's office for five years.

After being booked at the Hamilton County Jail, he was released on a cashless bond. He is expected in court in June.

In the meantime, Araiza has been placed on paid administrative leave pending the conclusion of an internal affairs investigation, according to the sheriff's office's Friday news release.

Deputies are placed on paid leave because courts have ruled that public employees — such as deputies — cannot be disciplined — suspended without pay — after being placed on leave without pay before the investigation is complete.

That's because withholding payment is viewed as discipline, and if the government entity is later sued by the accused officer, it can be argued that the officer was punished before being found guilty, or a violation of due process. If successful, a department could then have to pay the officer any lost wages.

Contact Rosana Hughes at 423-757-6327, rhughes@timesfreepress.com or follow her on Twitter @HughesRosana.

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