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Published On: Sun, Dec 23rd, 2012

Antonio Martinez, San Diego Down Syndrome man, beaten and hit with pepper spray as police say it was ‘mistake’

A developmentally disabled California man was hit, forced to the ground and hit with pepper spray before being taken into custody in an incident California sheriff’s deputies not call “a mistake.”

Antonio Martinez, age 21, was taken to a hospital and detained for possible obstruction of justice during a domestic violence investigation and Martinez was not “responding” to commands from the deputy.

Antonio Martinez,  injured cheek close up photo

Antonio Martinez, injured cheek close up photo

The deputy didn’t back off. Instead, while trying “to gain compliance and prevent a possible escape,” he used pepper spray on Martinez. The deputy began using a baton the police spokeswoman added.

“The deputy hit Antonio Martinez with it, forcing him to the ground,” then levied “a couple more strikes to get his hands free,” Sheriff’s Department Capt. Joe Rodi told CNN affiliate KGTV.

“He got pepper-sprayed so he’s covering his eyes the cop kept saying, ‘get on the floor,’” said witness Melissa Mejia. “He was already on the floor.” Mejia was working in her family’s shop nearby when she heard the commotion.

“He was lying down and the officer had the baton. He kicked him a couple times, like hard,” she added.

Martinez is well-known around the Vista neighborhood, where he lives and his family has a bakery, his sister said. He was out walking between his home and the bakery when the deputy called out to him, at which point neighborhood men explained that the young man had Down Syndrome and wasn’t doing anything wrong, according to Jessica Martinez, his sister.

Antonio Martinez

Antonio Martinez

“We made a mistake here,” Capt. Rodi told the family after more details surfaced.

Rodi said deputies were looking for a man in the area, possibly involved in a domestic violence dispute, when they came across Antonio Martinez.

“As the gentleman walked by, he covered his head with the hood of his sweatshirt,” said Rodi.  “Trying to conceal his identity.”

It was an act which raised the deputy’s suspicion.

When Antonio Martinez wouldn’t stop walking away as the deputy called out to him, the deputy took matters into his own hands.

“He pepper sprayed him,”  Rodi said.  “When that wasn’t effective, he hit him with a baton, which put him on the ground, and then a couple more strikes to get his hands free. So they could hand cuff him.”

They got him in the patrol car and realized he had Down Syndrome.

The deputy then drove him to the hospital.

The Martinez family said they have already contacted an attorney.

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About the Author

- Catherine "Kaye" Wonderhouse, a proud descendant of the Wunderhaus family is the Colorado Correspondent who will add more coverage, interviews and reports from this midwest area.

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  1. JOANNA says:

    I PERSONALLY THINK ITS RIDICULOUS FOR A DEPUTY TO DO THIS… THEY SHOULD TAKE HIS BADGE AWAY… AFTER ACTS LIKE THIS UNREASONABLE, HOW DO THEY EXPECT US TO TRUST OUR DEPUTIES THAT SUPPOSABLY ARE HERE TO HELP US… THIS IS SOOO WRONG, I HAVE ALOT OF FEELING ABOUT THIS…. FUKIN ASSWHOLE…. PUT HIM AND JAIL AND BEAT HIM UP WORSE, UGHHH PEOPLLE LIKE DIS GROSS ME OUT…..

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