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Video Showing Force Used By Vista Sheriff's Deputies Prompts Investigation

The door of the San Diego County Sheriff's Department in Kearny Mesa, Dec. 31, 2014.
Tarryn Mento
The door of the San Diego County Sheriff's Department in Kearny Mesa, Dec. 31, 2014.
Video Showing Force Used By Vista Sheriff's Deputies Prompts Investigation
Video Showing Force Used By Vista Sheriff Deputies Prompts Investigation GUEST:Ricky Young, editor, The San Diego Union-Tribune

>>> A video showing a forced use by San Diego County Sheriff's deputies and making an arrest in Vista has gone viral. The scene is of deputies handcuffing and apparently hitting and roughing up to suspects. Shares department says the suspects are Geraldo or Tina senior and Geraldo or Tina's junior who work arrested for several assault related charges including assault with a deadly weapon and felony domestic violence. The video was posted on Facebook Tuesday. It has been viewed more than 84,000 times. The shares department says it is launching an internal review into the incident. Joining me is San Diego Union Tribune editor Ricky Young. You published a piece about the Facebook video depicting the incident. Can you describe it in a bit more detail? >> There are a couple of officers, they are dealing with a couple of suspects. It comes in in the middle. What you see is them picking one guy up, it is in a suburban backyard walking path. You see them walking one guy along in the wood bark in the bushes. Out of nowhere, you see them shove him into a wooden fence somebody's backyard fence face first like a face plant into the fence. It is jarring. You can look at it and think police brutality or think maybe the guy tripped. That would be the charitable view of it from a law enforcement point if you. Maybe they did not purposely shove his face into a fence. But it does look like that's what they did. Meanwhile, there is another guy who is prone on a sidewalk kind of thing. You see a couple of officers and him. They are pounding his face into the pavement. There is a lot of swearing going on and telling him to stay down. You look at all of it and the question I posed to all of our readers on Facebook is does this look like routine law enforcement or have they crossed the line? That will be in the eye of the beholder. We have a lot of people who support law enforcement in San Diego County. We have a lot of people who it becomes The goal of it including the Reverend Shane Harris who was active after the Alfred along go shooting. He has called a news conference to discuss what he sees as abusive a couple of people of color. >>> Do we know where the video came from ? >> we do not. We talked about a woman who posted it on Facebook. Her name was Ashley Tovar. She did not get back to us yesterday. We did not put the video on our website. We embedded a Facebook version of it. This morning we saw on Instagram another woman claiming credit for it. The shares department put out a statement that indicated they are reviewing the situation. This stemmed from a domestic violence incident of some sort involving a weapon. The woman on Instagram who is claiming credit for the video is saying there was no weapon. She is making other claims that the shares department is not telling the truth. That is what we are looking into today. >>> At the shares department says it is investigating. It also says the video shows only the end of a longer incident. Mentions deputy body cams. What is the likelihood we will get to see the video from those body cams? >> I think that law enforcement in this area has largely used body cams for internal purposes. It was portrayed as something that would be an effort of transparency. The transparency seems to stop at the thin blue line. I doubt we will see the body can footage. >>> These are shares deputies in the video. There is a primary election for sheriff coming up. What are the implications for sheriff Bill Gore. >> A lot of these things happen coming up. Deaths in the jail, some other issues that might one at a time have not seem like a big issue. You have the shack nine case, Coronado Island, just a lot of little things. One at a time might not have implications for the sheriff in his reelection. He is a Republican sheriff in a Republican Traditionally town. But as more and more of these come up, you do start to wonder whether voters might think it's time for a change in the shares department. >>> I've been speaking with San Diego Union Tribune editor Ricky Young. Thank you, Rikky . >> my pleasure.

UPDATE: 3:26 p.m., May 9, 2018

The San Diego County Sheriff’s Department released a new statement Wednesday afternoon about the incident.

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On May 7th, 2018, the San Diego County Sheriff's Department received a 9-1-1 call from a woman who was the victim of domestic violence and being held against her will at 1120 Madera Lane, Vista. Deputies responded to the call. As a result of that call, two men were ultimately arrested. Gerardo Martinez Jr., 5/31/1994, was booked on charge of false imprisonment, inflicting corporal injury on a spouse/cohabitant, assault with a deadly weapon, obstruction/resisting executive officer and disobeying a court order. Gerardo Martinez Sr., 12/9/1967, was booked on charges of obstructing a public officer and 405a PC. Gerardo Sr. has bailed out of custody.
After initial review by command staff, two deputies were placed on paid administrative assignment pending an internal investigation. As we continue to gather and evaluate the facts of this case, the internal review might change in scope. This review will be comprehensive and include reviewing body-worn camera (BWC) video, all relevant reports and interviews with involved parties. All BWC video will be preserved as part of the investigation. We will share the results of our investigation with the District Attorney's Office.

Original Story:

The San Diego County Sheriff's department said two deputies were placed on administrative assignment and it is launching an internal review after a video posted to Facebook appears to show sheriff's deputies hitting one restrained suspect repeatedly in the head and slamming a second handcuffed suspect’s head into a fence.

First reported by The San Diego Union-Tribune, the video, which was shot from above the scene, has been viewed 84,000 times and shared more than 2,200 times on the Facebook account of a woman who says the suspects are related to her friend.

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A woman who said the men in the video were her brother and father posted the video to her Instagram account in addition to a photo of a man's legs with red marks and scrapes on the knees. Fatima Martinez said in the post that the incident happened at 9 a.m. on Tuesday.

"I was in the shower this morning and my dad had my baby girl. When I got out there were 8 cops cars and about 15 officers. They had arrested my brother and father. My brother and his girlfriend were outside arguing when police showed up and immediately started to beat my brother up and arrested him. My dad was talking to the girlfriend and he was then assaulted by police officers as well. My poor dad didn't understand why he was being arrested and was not read his rights. He said he didn't do anything and they proceeded to slam him against the fence (seen in video). The officer claims my dad was obstructing justice, my dad was just trying to get my dog under control but they wrong fully abused him. As my brother saw them doing that to my dad he said hey! And they slammed his face into the concrete (seen in video) they said he was being non compliant and resisting arrest. Martinez wrote on Instagram. "Vista is not safe , they took an oath to protect and serve. I shouldn't fear the people who are supposed to protect me!!!"

In a statement released Tuesday, a sheriff's spokeswoman said the deputies were responding to a domestic violence call.

Full statement from a sheriff department spokesperson: "We were made aware of the video a short time ago and as a result an internal review of the actions taken by the deputies on scene is being conducted. This includes reviewing reports and body worn camera footage related to the event. As a result, we are not at liberty to discuss the case any further, pending the results from that investigation. What we can say is the deputies were responding to a domestic violence call where the suspect was wielding a weapon and holding someone against their will. During the subsequent arrest, the parties in the video fought with deputies and this is a small portion of a much larger incident. While we are not condoning or condemning the actions of anyone at this point, we are taking this matter seriously and will address any outcomes accordingly."

Sheriff Bill Gore issued the following statement Wednesday:

Gerardo Martinez Sr. and Gerardo Martinez Jr. were arrested for several assault-related charges including assault with a deadly weapon and felony domestic violence. We were made aware of a video of their arrest early in the afternoon on Tuesday, May 8th. Upon reviewing the video, we immediately opened an internal investigation into the actions taken by the deputies. This review will be comprehensive and include reviewing body worn camera video, all relevant reports and interviews with involved parties. The deputies involved in this incident have been placed on administrative assignment while this case is fully investigated.

Ricky Young, an editor for The San Diego Union-Tribune, joins Midday Edition Wednesday with details.

Corrected: February 1, 2023 at 5:07 AM PST
Editor's note: The story has been updated to reflect that two deputies were placed on administrative assignment. A previous version of the story said a group of deputies were placed on administrative assignment.