Merced County man claims excessive force in arrest

MERCED, Calif. "One of them kicked me in my left eye, kneed me in this one, one of them was punching in the back of my head," said Jerry Gatlin.

Merced County Sheriff's Deputies say the man behind the complaint resisted arrest and injured two peace officers. But he says that's not true, and that the officers attacked him for no reason.

Sheriff's deputies went to Gatlin's home to serve a search warrant for weapons and an arrest warrant for his brother, who was on parole for armed robbery. But when Gatlin arrived at the house, the search soon turned physical.

Jerry Gatlin's face is still swollen and bruised from an altercation with Merced County Sheriff's Deputies and a State Parole Agent Tuesday evening. Gatlin says he came home from work to unlock this now broken gun cabinet after a deputy called him while serving a search warrant at the house.

"I came in and leaned up against the wall just like I'm leaning right now. And I asked them why did you break my gun cabinet if you called me home to unlock it? And that's when the cop was standing right there and told me you need to turn around, place your hands behind your back," said Gatlin.

Gatlin says he tried to explain he couldn't put his arms all the way back because he had surgery on his shoulders. And that's when he was put in a chokehold.

"He was choking with his arm around my neck and all these other officers came out of these rooms and attacked me, and as I was going down to the floor, one of them kicked me in my left eye, kneed me in this one, one of them was punching in the back of my head."

Gatlin says one of the deputy's belts punched this hole in the wall as they fell to the ground. His 20-year-old daughter, who asked us to hide her face, says she saw the entire incident.

"My dad's yelling, stop, stop, I'm not resisting, I'm not resisting, stop, I'm not resisting, and my dad couldn't even move, all these guys were on top of him," said Gatlin's daughter Christina Perez.

Gatlin has filed a formal complaint, so the sheriff's office cannot comment on the allegations. But Deputy Tom Mackenzie says peace officers do have certain rights, "We're allowed to use just amount of force to overcome resistance and affect an arrest."

A news release following the incident claims Gatlin had become irate when he returned home and that he injured two officers who tried to subdue him. He was arrested for battery on a peace officer and resisting arrest.

His brother Jesse Gatlin, who was on parole for armed robbery, and John Godman-- a convicted sex offender -- were both arrested for being felons in possession of firearms after three shotguns and a rifle were found inside the home.

Jerry Gatlin posted bail shortly after his arrest. A sheriff's office commander is now reviewing his complaint to see if an internal investigation is warranted.

Copyright © 2021 KFSN-TV. All Rights Reserved.