“What you’re seeing here appears to be assault and battery under color of authority and is definitely a violation of the civil rights of these Marines”
San Diego, Calif. - Two active duty U.S. Marines have been charged with felony assault and battery charges stemming from an altercation with San Diego police officers and face the possibility of being dishonorably discharged from the service if convicted, as well as up to three years in prison.
Although being charged with assault and battery, video captured on an officer’s body camera indicates a different set of circumstance than the narrative put forth by the officers involved in the incident, and backs up claims made by the men and their attorneys.
The Marines claim that they were simply being good Samaritans and rendering aid to an unknown victim that was lying unconscious on the ground when police attacked them.
They two men stated that they were out celebrating the return of a fellow Marine from Afghanistan when they witnessed a fight take place. One of the participants in the fight, who was unknown to either Marine, was knocked unconscious. Both men rushed to the side of the victim and attempted to render aid to the unconscious man on the ground.
What can be clearly seen in the video is police rushing in and attempting to manhandle the two Marines as they are in the process of attempting to give aid to the unconscious man on the ground.
Police have attempted to paint Robert Reginato, 21, one of the Marines charged in the incident, as an aggressor claiming in the police report that he, “forcibly grabbed an officer to free his friend from police. When an officer attempted to arrest him, he resisted. The only way he was taken into custody is after the sergeant punched him several times in the face.”
But the video clearly shows something else transpiring, as another officer on the scene can be heard clearly shouting, “Sarge! Sarge! Sarge! No punching Sarge!,” as if he clearly could tell the officer throwing the heavy-handed punches was going too far with his actions.
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Paul Neuharth, Reginato’s attorney said, “What you’re seeing here appears to be assault and battery under color of authority and is definitely a violation of the civil rights of these Marines,” according to ABC 10 News.
Why should two Marines, acting to provide assistance to an unconscious man lying on the ground, be assaulted by police simply because the officers rush into an area without any idea as to what is going on, but fueled by fear and adrenaline?
Neuharth told reporters “You’ve got two Marines that will be kicked out of the Marine Corps as a result of this if convicted of those felonies, which started as giving First Aid to an unconscious person they never knew.”
These Marines were being exemplary citizens and should be applauded for their actions, but instead they were attacked by jackboot thugs operating under the color of law.
The San Diego District Attorney’s Office said in a statement, “We can only file criminal charges when we believe we can prove them beyond a reasonable doubt, as we do in this case. We are moving forward with the case and will be presenting evidence at the upcoming preliminary hearing.”
The DA knows full well there is a difference between the letter of the law and the intent behind it. Perhaps these men did violate the letter of the law, but they in no way violated the intent of the law. This case is a perfect example of what is wrong with our system, we have reached a point at which common sense no longer exists.
Where is the morality in prosecuting these men?
Because these Marines didn’t allow themselves to simply be manhandled by overly aggressive cops they now face up to 3 years in prison, and for what? For taking the time to assist someone they didn’t even know.
Where is the justice for these Marines? Is this the treatment they deserve for attempting to help someone who was incapacitated? Just another indication of how out of control our law enforcement apparatus truly is.
Jay Syrmopoulos is an investigative journalist, freethinker, researcher, and ardent opponent of authoritarianism. He is currently a graduate student at University of Denver pursuing a masters in Global Affairs. Jay's work has previously been published on BenSwann.com and WeAreChange.org. You can follow him on Twitter @sirmetropolis, on Facebook at Sir Metropolis and now on Tsu.