Two United States Marines are facing felony charges and discharge from the service after being charged with assault and battery against San Diego police officers. The incident, which occurred back on September 21 in the Gaslamp District of San Diego, was partially caught on tape thanks to a police officer’s body camera. While police are pursuing charges, attorneys for the Marines are calling the police actions an abuse of power.
Robert Reginato, a 21 year old Marine, is one of the men charged with assault and battery. According to NBC San Diego, Reginato was an aggressor during the altercation, but his attorney claims something different. He claims that Reginato and another Marine, Gabriel Talley, were out celebrating a fellow soldier’s return from Afghanistan and a birthday when they witnessed a street fight.
Paul Neuharth, Reginato’s attorney, claims that during that street fight, a person unknown to either Marine was knocked out. The Marines rushed to the unconscious person’s side to administer first aid, but police intervened and pushed them back.
As you can see in the video, a San Diego Police sergeant can be seen hitting Reginato multiple times with heavy punches. While that sergeant is pounding Reginato, another officer can be heard yelling “Sarg! Sarg! Sarg! No punching Sarg” as if to try to stop him.
Paul Neuharth told reporters from ABC 10 News “What you’re seeing here appears to be assault and battery under color of authority.”
The police report states that Reginato “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.”
Whether the use of force was excessive or not, the police department still went ahead and pressed charges against the marines, who are now on restriction from the Marine Corps while the investigation and charges run their course.
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.”
The San Diego County District Attorney’s Office countered, saying “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.”
By Brett Gillin