Deputy Jeffrey Guy was just doing his job. Responding to a domestic violence call, he saw a guy. A guy! If that wasn’t suspicious enough, check this:
“As the gentleman walked by, he covered his head with the hood of his sweatshirt,” said Rodi. “Trying to conceal his identity.”
It’s not that Captain Joe Rodi has miraculous mind reading skillz, knowing exactly why this guy, whom he calls a gentlemen but he was being insincere, covered his head with his hood. Cops know why people do stuff. Cops know stuff. Mad, mad skillz.
So Guy did what any empathetic, self-respecting cop would do.
Deputy Jeffrey Guy beat Antonio “Tony” Martinez with a metal baton, sprayed him with pepper spray, then handcuffed him and held him at the Vista Sheriff’s Station for five hours without letting his father see him.
Wait. Without letting him see his father? What’s that about? Ah yes, Tony Martinez was a nice young man who worked at his family’s bakery. He was on his way to work when Deputy Guy saw him. And he has Down Syndrome. Boom.
According to Guy, who didn’t take the moment to ascertain whether Tony had anything to do with a domestic violence incident, was a bad dude or just a guy in a hoody who, for reasons that eluded Joe Rodi’s mad mind-reading skillz, decided to put up his hood at that moment, when he realized that he just beat and tased a young man with Down Syndrome, all 4 feet, 11 inches of him, he “felt sick to his stomach.” So he only held him in custody for another five hours. Swell, Guy. Hope your tummy ache felt better.
The Martinez family sought to resolve this travesty in a positive fashion:
[Martinez’s lawyer, Judge] Basile said in a statement that Martinez and his family asked the Sheriff’s Department to admit it was wrong, and apologize and that Guy would volunteer for 100 hours with Special Olympics or the Down Syndrome Society. Basile said that had those requests been met, “financial considerations would be easily agreed upon.”
But the sheriff wouldn’t negotiate with
terrorists a wrongfully beaten 21-year-old — with the mental ability of a 7-year-old — with Down Syndrome, so the case came down to money. One million dollars, as it turns out.
“This case exposed little or no training, policies and procedures for the Department to deal with mentally disabled people, hopefully some good will come of this with how the officers recognize and treat Disabled People,” Basile said in a statement.
Of course, they’re one million dollars short of creating a training program now, though one wonders what aspect of training was really needed to inform a cop that beating and tasing a guy for whom no probable cause exists, who posed no threat of harm to anyone, isn’t going to do the trick? What part of don’t beat first, figure out why later, requires specialized training?
The recurring gap between the mentally challenged, the mentally ill, the physically challenged and the demands of cops to comply or suffer the consequences remains unfilled. That a cop like Guy feels really badly about what he did afterward is neither a solution nor an excuse. While it’s better that Tony Martinez settled for a million dollars than not, what would really be better is that police stop resorting to violence first.
Epilogue: The report of the settlement by Pauline Repard in the San Diego Union-Tribune ends with this tidbit:
[Basile] did not say how much of the settlement goes to his client and how much to legal fees.
Does Repard mean to suggest that the lawyer being paid a portion of the settlement as a legal fee is wrong, perhaps dirty, taking from the bounty due Tony Martinez? Because without Basile’s services, the county would have lavished Tony Martinez with compensation because they’re just great people?
Or had the county taken up the original offer, which it blew off, perhaps this wouldn’t really be about money at all. But sure, it’s an important question how much of the money goes to the lawyer, because lawyers suck the blood out of poor guys with Down Syndrome. Unlike sheriff’s deputies.