Charges filed in alleged abuse of children at boot camp held at Camp SLO

The San Luis Obispo County District Attorney’s Office filed multiple misdemeanor charges Friday against three Southern California police officers for allegedly abusing 10 children at a youth boot camp held at Camp San Luis Obispo in May.

The officers were working as instructors at the boot camp for children ages 12 to 16 when the alleged abuse occurred between May 17 and May 24, the District Attorney’s Office said.

The police officers charged are Edgar Yovany Gomez, 35, and Carlos Manuel Gomez-Marquez, 32, both of South Gate Police Department; and Marissa Elizabeth Larios, 36, of Huntington Park Police Department, according to the complaint filed by the DA's Office.

Gomez and Gomez-Marquez have been charged with multiple counts of battery, cruelty to a child by inflicting injury and corporal injury to a child. Larios was charged with one count of battery and two counts of cruelty to a child by inflicting injury, according to the complaint.

Greg Owen, one attorney representing the children, previously told The Tribune that officers stepped on children’s hands and backs while they were ordered to do push-ups. Some children were ordered into a dark room where they were held up by instructors and beaten in the face, head and stomach, he said. One boy came home with a fractured hand.

The boot camp program, called L.E.A.D (Leadership, Empowerment, and Discipline), was sponsored by the South Gate and Huntington Park police departments, as well as by the California National Guard and rented Camp San Luis Obispo for its program. The alleged abuse did not involve any local residents or Camp San Luis personnel, the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Office said.

The three officers are scheduled to appear for arraignment in San Luis Obispo Superior Court on Monday morning. All three are out of custody, having filed a bond with the court. After conducting its investigation, the Sheriff’s Office last month recommended to the DA’s Office that charges should be filed against four officers, including Patrick Marvin Nijland, 47, an officer in the Huntington Park Police Department.

District Attorney Dan Dow said Saturday that his office has referred charges regarding Nijland to the Los Angeles district attorney.

“The conduct he committed was in LA County prior to the trip with the kids to SLO County,” Dow said in an email. “We did not have jurisdiction to charge him.”