A former sheriff’s deputy in California allegedly beat a looter with a baseball bat in a sporting goods store — and then stole property from the shop himself in the aftermath of George Floyd’s death, prosecutors said.
Erdem Gorgulu, who was an 11-year veteran of the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Office, is facing charges of felony assault with a deadly weapon, assault under color of authority, filing a false police report and looting in a June 1 incident at a Big 5 Sporting Goods store in San Bernardino, prosecutors said Wednesday.
Gorgulu, then a deputy sheriff, responded to the store for an in-progress looting call and allegedly assaulted Juan Martinez inside the business with a baseball bat, the Los Angeles Times reports.
“Gorgulu used force and placed Martinez in custody,” sheriff officials said in a statement, adding that Martinez was arrested on charges of looting, burglary and committing a felony offense while out on bail.
Another deputy sheriff on the scene who saw Gorgulu, 46, then notified a watch commander of his “unwarranted and unethical” actions.
A probe was launched, and Gorgulu was placed on administrative leave on June 3, sheriff officials said.
Investigators then learned Gorgulu may have taken property from the store during the incident, prompting sheriff officials to obtain a search warrant.
They later recovered stolen property, which was not specified by the department, from Gorgulu’s car, sheriff officials said.
“The criminal acts committed by Gorgulu while serving in his capacity as a deputy sheriff are inexcusable and undermine all the good, valuable work deputies do every day,” San Bernardino Sheriff Sheriff John McMahon said in a statement.
“Although Gorgulu’s acts were unacceptable and disheartening, this incident serves as an example of how deputies are willing to come forward and report unethical behavior.”
Gorgulu was no longer employed by the department as of Monday, department officials said.
Martinez, 28, pleaded not guilty in July to burglary during a state of emergency, but the charge was later dismissed due to insufficient evidence, the Victorville Daily Press reports.
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