Two deputies with the San Diego Sheriff's Office are facing misdemeanor assault charges after a video that went viral on social media of an aggressive arrest of a father and son in Vista, California stirred community outrage.
The San Diego District Attorney's Office filed assault charges Tuesday against Deputies Nicholas Morgan and Joshua Nahan for an arrest the men made on May 7 during a domestic violence call.
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The charges come after a months-long internal investigation and community pressure.
In a video posted on Facebook by a neighbor, one of the deputies can be seen slamming striking Geraldo Martinez Jr., in the back of the head as he was being held down. Another deputy is in the video slamming Martinez's father head first into a wooden fence.
"Right now, we have cowboys that are riding around North County doing whatever they way," Darwin Fishman with the Racial Justice Coalition of San Diego said at a news conference Tuesday. "Certainly this is just the tip of the iceberg."
Fishman claimed Tuesday that San Diego stands out for its lack of accountability for its officers. He called the charges against the deputies an "extraordinary step" and praised the community for pushing officials about the case.
"Short of us coming out and having protests and demonstrations, typically there's nothing done at all, there's not any pressure," Fishman said. "Even this small step, we know that the DA and the sheriff's office department wouldn't have even done this unless we'd been doing the work that we've been doing - and them feeling the pressure to do it."
Morgan, 27, could face two years in jail on two misdemeanor counts of assault without lawful necessity by an officer. Nahan, 31, is only facing one year for one count of the same charge. Both men will be arraigned on Friday in San Diego Superior Court.
"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 district attorney said in a statement. “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."