A Vista family is questioning why their 21-year-old son with Down syndrome was roughed up by a sheriff’s deputy while the young man was walking to his father’s bakery.
Sheriff spokeswoman Jan Caldwell said the young man was on his way to the bakery about 8 p.m. Tuesday when a Deputy Sheriff, who was responding to a call of domestic violence, saw him and ordered him to stop. Caldwell said the young man glanced at the deputy, then pulled a sweatshirt hood over his head and continued walking.
The Sheriff Deputy pulled his car in front of the him and repeatedly ordered him to stop but the young man did not respond.
When the deputy tried to detain him, the young man kept his hands clenched in his pockets and ignored several commands, Caldwell said. At that point, the deputy sprayed the young man with pepper spray as the young man was cowering and trying to cover his body from the blows.
Caldwell also said it wasn’t until they placed the young man in a patrol car did they realize he was developmentally disabled, and they drove him to Tri-City Medical Center hospital for treatment. However, a witness said she was screaming that the young man had Down syndrome. “We made a mistake,” Caldwell said.
The family said the beating left the young man in pain, depressed and afraid of police. The deputy has since offered the family a turkey in the spirit of the season. However, “We know a dinner won’t make up for what happened . . . We just wanted to make their Christmas a little better after what happened Tuesday night,” Caldwell said.
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