This story has been updated to include a comment from District Attorney Dan Dow.
The San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Office is recommending local charges against four Los Angeles-area police officers suspected of abusing 15 teens at a youth boot camp that rented facilities at Camp San Luis Obispo in May.
The charges — ranging from misdemeanor battery to felony criminal conspiracy — will be forwarded to the San Luis Obispo County District Attorney’s Office for review.
Detective Marissa Elizabeth Larios, 36, and Officer Patrick Marvin Nijland, 47, of the Huntington Park Police Department and officers Carlos Manuel Gomez-Marquez, 31, and Edgar Yovany Gomez, 35, of the South Gate Police Department were served arrest warrants by San Luis Obispo deputies, Sheriff’s Office spokesman Tony Cipolla said Wednesday.
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Cipolla said that even though warrants were issued for their arrest, none of the four officers were physically booked into San Luis Obispo County Jail. Rather, each posted the $20,000 bail necessary to keep them out of custody through their respective attorneys, he said.
“They had attorneys from the very beginning of this investigation,” Cipolla said, adding that anyone has the right to post bail on an arrest warrant.
Though officials are releasing few details of the abuse, attorneys for the alleged victims claimed their clients were slapped, punched and stepped on by drill instructors as part of a 20-week program sponsored by both Southern California police departments, as well as by the California National Guard.
The alleged abuse did not involve any local residents or Camp San Luis personnel, however, and the Sheriff’s Office headed the investigation because it falls within its jurisdiction.
The alleged abuse occurred between May 17 and 24. The investigation was launched after local authorities were contacted by the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services about alleged physical and verbal abuse of a child at the camp. Investigators later identified 15 male and female alleged victims, ages 12 to 17 years old.
Greg Owen, one attorney representing the children, previously told The Tribune that officers stepped on kids’ hands and backs while they were ordered to do push-ups. He said some victims who didn’t meet camp expectations were ordered into a dark room, held up by instructors and beaten in the face, head and stomach.
The Sheriff’s Office recommended felony charges of willful cruelty to a child, criminal threats and criminal conspiracy and misdemeanor charges of criminal battery abuse under color of authority for both Gomez and Gomez-Martinez.
Larios and Nijland are facing possible felony charges of willful cruelty to a child and criminal battery and misdemeanor abuse of authority. Larios is recommended for an additional charge of felony criminal conspiracy.
District Attorney Dan Dow said late Wednesday that his office had not yet received the recommended charges. He said that reviewing the charges could take several days once they are received.