Deputy Jose’ Antonio “Tony” Diaz
Appointed: August 23, 2004
End of Watch: June 15, 2008
A Deputy Slain
On November 18, 1943, Deputy Sheriff Walter J. Leinberger, a popular deputy in the Broderick area (now known as West Sacramento) was shot to death outside a Bryte cabin where he had gone to arrest a man for burglary.
Deputy Leinberger, accompanied by his wife Zetta, was attempting to arrest 38 year old Luis “Ironmouth” Balle, when Balle burst out of the cabin firing his pistol, slaying Deputy Leinberger as his wife watched. Mrs. Leinberger, who had never fired a gun before, took her husband’s weapon and fired six times at the gunman. She thought she missed him, as he was able to escape, but it was later discovered that she wounded him twice in the arm.
In less than twenty-four hours, authorities caught up with Balle in a Sacramento alley. During a shoot out with the lawmen, Balle sustained bullet wounds that later proved fatal.
Ralph W. Bonnetti, then a Folsom Prison guard and a close friend of the slain deputy, was among the officers who finally caught up with Balle. Bonnetti was later hired as a deputy by Yolo County Sheriff Forrest Monroe, and in 1952 was elected judge of the Washington Judicial District Court in Eastern Yolo County
Deputy Leinberger’s son William, who was eleven years old at the time of his father’s death, joined the Yolo County Sheriff’s Office in September 1956 and retired as a sergeant in 1984.
In November 1991, county law enforcement officials gathered to dedicate the Sheriff’s new $3.5 million minimum-security center to the memory of Walter J. Leinberger.