Jury Selection to Begin in Trial of 2 Deputies Charged With Assault - NBC 7 San Diego

Jury Selection to Begin in Trial of 2 Deputies Charged With Assault

Attorneys debated what evidence should be admitted in front of a judge

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    Jury Selection to Begin in Trial of Two Deputies Charged With Assault

    The deputies are facing misdemeanour assault without lawful necessity charges. (Published Wednesday, May 22, 2019)

    Two deputies with the San Diego County Sheriff's Department will face trial in front of a jury of their peers this week, both facing charges of assault. 

    Deputy Nicholas Morgan and Deputy Joshua Nahan were present as lawyers argued what evidence should be admissable during a motion hearing in a Vista courtroom in front of Judge Harry M. Elias.  

    The charges stem from an incident that happened in last May. Deputies were called to a house in Vista for a domestic violence incident. 

    Deputies arrested Gerardo Martinez, Jr. and his father; A neighbor captured it on video and posted it to Facebook.

    Video of Vista Arrest Sparks Outrage

    [DGO] Video of Vista Arrest Sparks Outrage

    An arrest by sheriff's deputies is under investigation after a neighbor recorded it. NBC 7's Artie Ojeda is in Vista with more information.

    (Published Wednesday, May 9, 2018)

    In the 22-second video, two deputies walked a handcuffed Gerardo Martinez Sr. down a walkway. Nahan appears to push him head first into a wooden fence.

    While deputies were walking Martinez Sr., two other deputies were attempting to take his son into custody on the ground.

    Deputy Morgan was seen striking Martinez Jr. in the back of the head as he lay face down on the concrete.

    Morgan, 27, has been charged with two misdemeanor counts of assault without lawful necessity by an officer and faces two years behind bars if convicted, the  District Attorney's Office announced Tuesday. 

    Nahan, 31, has been charged with one misdemeanor count of assault without lawful necessity by an officer and faces one year in jail if convicted. 

    The investigation came months after the video went viral, sparking outrage in the community.

    In court Monday, Judge Elias said that he will not allow jurors to hear evidence of Morgan's military experience. He will not be allowed to disclose the information if he takes the stand. 

    Attorneys also debated whether or not the inital 911 call that sent the deputies to the arrest location should be admitted into evidence. 

    Nahan's attorney, Richard Pinckard, told NBC 7 it was too early in the trial to comment. 

    Vista resident Alan Cabrera spoke passionately at a news conference called by members of the community when he said he hopes this action by the district attorney is a stepping stone toward a better relationship between the community and the sheriff's department. 

    "A lot of times the sheriff’s department doesn’t hear who they are working for. They are working for us," Cabrera said. 

    Darwin Fishman with the Racial Justice Coalition of San Diego said it’s remarkable that this step was even taken. Often, community members are told law enforcement officers are acting within the agency's protocol or under threat to their personal safety.

    “Right now, we have cowboys that are riding around North County doing whatever they way,“ Fishman said. “Certainly this is just the tip of the iceberg.” 

    Neither the DA's Office or the sheriff's department would comment on the remarks made by those community activists.

    Jury selection for the trial is set to begin Tuesday.

    This is a developing story. Check back for updates.