Suit alleges deputy beat mentally disabled man

photoU-T San Diego – by Pauline Repard

 — The Sheriff’s Department apologized, but now it is facing a Vista family’s lawsuit over a deputy who pepper sprayed and beat their 21-year-old son, who has Down syndrome, when he failed to obey the deputy’s orders.

Antonio Martinez, who has the mental capacity of a 7-year-old, suffered scrapes, bruises and eye irritation from the Dec. 18, 2012 encounter, according to the suit filed Thursday in Vista Superior Court.  

Deputy County Counsel Morris Hill said on Friday that he couldn’t comment on the litigation. He said the county has 30 days to file a response.

Sheriff’s officials said at the time that Deputy Jeffrey Guy was investigating a reported domestic violence incident when he saw Martinez flip a hood over his head and walk up and down Postal Way. Guy told the 4-foot-11-inch Martinez to stop, but the young man kept walking toward his parents’ bakery.

Guy had no reasonable suspicion that Martinez had committed a crime and “became angry at Tony for exercising his constitutional right not to stop for a consensual detention,” the lawsuit alleges.

It said the deputy “looked Tony in the face and then unloaded a canister of highly irritating pepper spray into Tony’s face and eyes,” beat him with a weighted baton, slammed his face on the pavement and cuffed him.

Meanwhile, Martinez’ two younger sisters and others who know him were yelling at the deputy to stop, saying Martinez has Down syndrome, according to the lawsuit.

The suit said other deputies joined the struggle with Martinez, who was jailed for five hours.

Vista sheriff’s Capt. Joe Rodi later went to the family home to apologize and sheriff’s spokeswoman Jan Caldwell told reporters, “We made a mistake.”

The lawsuit, filed on behalf of Martinez, his sisters, Karina and Jessica, and their father, Francisco, seeks unspecified damages for battery, negligence, false arrest, civil rights violations, and emotional distress.

Caldwell said on Friday that Guy, who had been at deputy for about four months at the time of the incident, is still a sheriff’s employee. Guy had been a San Jose police officer for about eight years.

2 thoughts on “Suit alleges deputy beat mentally disabled man

  1. The cops believe it’s perfectly okay to brutalize a person and then ask questions later. After all, they never face any prosecution. I hope this family wins their case in court, yet there is still the question of where the money would come from if the court awards the family an amount. If the tax payers have to foot the bill, that does nothing to stop the senseless violence. The cops should be the ones who pay the amount, not the people.

  2. Police work attracts cowardly punks just as the priesthood attracts pedophiles, and this idiot is a prime example of that.

    We don’t need cops for anything whatsoever. They’re only a menace to society, and every last one of them has to go.

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