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By Doha Madani
Two officers from the San Diego Sheriff's Office face assault charges for minor offenses after a video that went viral on social media of an aggressive arrest of a father and son in Vista, California sparked outrage in the community.
The San Diego District Attorney's Office filed charges of assault on Tuesday against Deputies Nicholas Morgan and Joshua Nahan for an arrest the men made on May 7 during a domestic violence call.
The charges come after an internal investigation and a month-long community pressure.
In a video posted on Facebook by a neighbor, you can see one of the deputies beating Geraldo Martinez Jr. on the back of his head while holding him. Another deputy is in the video hitting the head of Martinez's father first on a wooden fence.
"Right now, we have cowboys traveling through North County doing whatever they do," Darwin Fishman, of the San Diego Racial Justice Coalition, told a news conference on Tuesday. "This is certainly just the tip of the iceberg."
Fishman said Tuesday that San Diego stands out for its lack of responsibility to its officials. He called the charges against the deputies an "extraordinary step" and praised the community for pressuring officials on the case.
"Unless we leave and have protests and demonstrations, normally nothing is done, there is no pressure," Fishman said. "Even with this small step, we know that the DA and the department of the sheriff's office would not have even done this unless we had been doing the work we have been doing, and they felt the pressure to do it."
Morgan, 27, could face two years in prison for two misdemeanors of assault without an officer's legal necessity. Nahan, 31, faces only one year for a position in the same position. Both men will be tried Friday in the Superior Court of San Diego.
"Police officers have a position of trust in our community and are bound to comply with 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 overcame the legal line, violating the public trust, for justice to prosper, it is important that no one is above the law."