San Diego

2 Deputies Charged With Assault in Vista Arrest Investigation

Gerardo Martinez, Jr. and his father were arrested on Monday, May 7 after deputies were called to a domestic violence incident

Two San Diego County sheriff's deputies face misdemeanor criminal charges in the May arrest of a Vista man and his father that sparked outrage in the community. 

Deputy Nicholas Morgan and Deputy Joshua Nahan will appear in court Friday, the San Diego County District Attorney's Office announced. 

Both deputies were involved in the arrest of Gerardo Martinez, Jr. and his father after deputies were called to a domestic violence incident. 

A neighbor captured the May 7th arrest on video and posted it to Facebook.

In the 22-second video, two deputies walked a handcuffed Gerardo Martinez Sr. down a walkway. Nahan, the deputy on the elder Martinez's left side, 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.

Deputies were heard telling him to "stop fighting."I feel like this District Attorney is the defender of law enforcement. They were under the color of authority. These were brutal assaults."

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. 

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.

Other activists were disappointed the deputies were charged with misdemeanors.

"I don't feel like it's a step forward," Tasha Williamson 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.

The day after the arrest, the sheriff's department said the deputies were responding to a call involving a domestic violence victim who was being held against her will.

Martinez Sr. was charged with obstructing a public officer and bailed out days later. The charge was dropped.

The younger Martinez was initially booked on false imprisonment, domestic violence, assault and resisting arrest charges. The resisting arrest charge was later dropped.

He pleaded guilty in July to one felony count of corporal injury of a roommate or spouse. He was sentenced to four years of probation. 

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