A California man who was caught on video pummeling a sheriff’s deputy and shooting at her with her own gun was found not guilty of attempted murder and other charges by a jury, with the victim saying the decision sets a bad precedent for law enforcement.
Former San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Deputy Meagan McCarthy was the closest law enforcement officer when a frantic 911 call came in from a mother, pleading with dispatch for help and for someone to save her from her own son.
McCarthy rushed to the home and saw a man with “clenched fists” who came outside and then made a “bee-line” in her direction as she got out of her patrol vehicle. Behind him was his mother, with a knife in her hand and still on the phone with dispatch.
“The 911 call came out for an unknown problem, which basically means there’s something going on, we just don’t know,” McCarthy told Fox News Digital. “So the woman on the other end says to dispatch, ‘Oh my God, oh my God! Get my son out of here.’ And she kind of goes quiet on the line. That prompts a priority 1 response, which means somebody needs to get there right now.”
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She was the first deputy to arrive at the house and the suspect, Ari Young, looked “very angry,” she said. Video taken on a neighbor’s cellphone shows he started pummeling her in the face. He then beat her to the ground, seized her gun and began firing shots in her direction. Her injuries included a broken thumb and black eye.
“Based on my training and experience, it was easy to infer that something was going on,” McCarthy recalled of her initial arrival. “People don’t just arm themselves against their son with a knife for no reason, and the fact that she had already made these statements to dispatch was just awful.”
The deputy approached Young and attempted to calm the situation and pat him down.
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“Thirteen seconds into our interaction, he told me, ‘I will headbutt the f— out of you,'” she recalled. “So I knew his intentions weren’t going to be of compliance.”
Video shows that he punched her repeatedly, the two struggled for a gun, and he fired multiple shots after taking it. McCarthy told Fox News Digital Wednesday that she had only survived because the gun jammed the first time he pulled the trigger, aiming directly at her face.
Young’s defense attorney, however, argued that McCarthy had no lawful reason to do what she was doing, and therefore his client was acting in self-defense.
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Raj Malin, the defense lawyer, told Los Angeles’ ABC 7 that McCarthy did not have reasonable suspicion to justify patting down his schizophrenic client when she arrived on scene.
“The issue was, was the initial detention of Mr. Young legal?” he told the station. “If it’s not, then he’s not guilty. . . . He could punch her 100 times, and it wouldn’t matter.”
A California jury found him not guilty of attempted murder and assaulting a peace officer, instead finding him guilty of the lesser charge of negligent discharge of a firearm and failing to reach a verdict on several other allegations, including resisting arrest.
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“His whole thing was, I didn’t do my job right. I had no right to detain him. I had no right to search him,” McCarthy told Fox News Digital. “But that’s exactly what we are trained to do. That’s exactly what peace officer standards in training from the state of California says to do. It just set him off. It was like a trigger for him.”
California State Assemblyman Bill Essayli, R-Riverside, a former federal prosecutor and deputy district attorney in nearby Riverside County, said the case should have had enough evidence to secure a conviction – and that there may have been anti-police bias in the jury.
“[The defense] argued that she didn’t have a lawful authority to detain him, and therefore, he’s free to defend himself and do whatever he wants to get away from her, including beating her up and shooting at her,” Essayli told Fox News Digital. “That’s not correct. That’s not the law. And I don’t think the judge should have allowed that argument to be presented in that manner.”
Following the verdicts, even the county sheriff said in a statement that she is frustrated by the lack of “meaningful consequences” in the case.
“The video speaks for itself, and more importantly it demonstrates the increasing violence the public and our deputies experience,” San Bernardino County Sheriff-Coroner Shannon Dicus told Fox News Digital. “I share in the frustration at the lack of accountability for these brazen and violent crimes, crimes perpetrated by a criminal who created a situation where law enforcement help was requested, a criminal who repeatedly and brutally attacked, disarmed, and tried to murder a deputy sheriff.”
McCarthy, a mother of two young daughters herself, survived but was forced to retire from the job she loved due to post-traumatic stress.
“I loved my job,” she told Fox News Digital. “I genuinely woke up every day excited to do what I was supposed to do and what I swore to do. And the fact that that was taken from me without me wanting it, makes me upset.”
Backup arrived, returned fire and took Young into custody. Although deputies shot him, he survived the encounter and walked free after his acquittal on the attempted murder charge.
“This started from a 911 call from a distraught mother who was so afraid of her adult son that she had a knife in her hand when the police officer got there,” said Betsy Brantner Smith, a retired police sergeant and the spokesperson for the National Police Association. “He could’ve easily went and killed his mother, maybe that’s what he was trying to do when he fired the weapon. But this isn’t just about the officer either. What about the original caller – the mother?”
McCarthy could have chosen to wait for backup, avoiding the situation for crucial minutes, Brantner Smith said.
“Instead she immediately goes to help this woman at great peril to herself,” she said. “She should be commended – not treated as some kind of second-class citizen by the jury.”
But her treatment sets a sad precedent and could lead other officers to hesitate in moments of crisis in the future – which could be deadly for law enforcement and for the citizens they’re trying to protect, she said.
“She not only gets beat up, stripped of her firearm and nearly gets killed – she loses her career,” she said. “This is how she pays her mortgage, takes care of her family.”
Fox News’ Emmett Jones contributed to this report.
Source: Fox News