VISTA (NEWS 8) – Charges were filed Tuesday against the San Diego County Sheriff’s deputies involved in a forceful confrontation with two Vista men earlier this year. The incident was captured on cellphone and quickly went viral on social media.
In a statement provided by the District Attorney's Office, DA Summer Stephan said, “Law enforcement officers hold a position of trust in our community and are required to abide by the rules in the exercise of their powers. The evidence on which the charges are based shows the force used by the two deputies exceeded the legal line, violating that public trust. For justice to thrive, it is important that no one is above the law.”
The Sheriff’s Department has referred all questions on the case to the District Attorney’s Office.
In May of 2018, deputies arrived at a Vista apartment complex responding to a domestic violence call. The suspect at the time was 24 year-old Gerardo Martinez Jr. In the course of the arrest, cellphone video appears to show deputies picking up the elder Martinez off the ground and slamming his head into a fence. At the same time, video appears to show Martinez Jr. was hit in the head by authorities while being held down on a concrete sidewalk.
Following the incident, the Sheriff’s Department launched an internal investigation – placing the deputies on administrative assignment.
According to the DA's Office, a thorough review and investigation was conducted and determined that criminal charges would be filed against Deputy Nicholas Morgan, 27, and Deputy Joshua Nahan, 31. Morgan has been charged with two misdemeanor counts of assault without lawful necessity by an officer and faces up to two years in jail if convicted. Nahan has been charged with one misdemeanor count of assault without lawful necessity by an officer and faces up to one year in jail if convicted.
Both men will be arraigned on Friday, November 30 at 8:00 a.m. at the San Diego Superior Court in the North County.
On Tuesday activists gathered outside the Sheriff’s Department in Vista to show their support for the charges against the Sheriff's deputies.
Yusef Miller, who is with the Council on American-Islamic Relations in San Diego, told News 8 on Monday, “There are real people behind these incidents and we’ll make sure that these families get the justice that they deserve.”
Gerardo Martinez Jr., who was arrested on domestic violence charges ultimately received three years of formal probation. The case against his father – for allegedly obstructing justice was later dropped.