California sheriff’s deputy fired after theft, excessive force charges

SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. — A California sheriff’s deputy who allegedly used excessive force in subduing a burglary suspect, has been charged with assault, looting and filing a false police report.

Former San Bernardino Deputy Sheriff Erdem Gorgulu, 46, responded to a call June 1 about looting at a sporting goods store. Once inside, Gorgulu found Juan Martinez and, according to investigators, used excessive force while taking him into custody.

Martinez was arrested and charged with looting, burglary and committing a felony while on bail, deputies said.

Another member of the sheriff’s department, who witnessed the arrest and thought it was overly physical, reported Gorgulu’s actions, leading to the investigation.

The deputy was placed on paid administrative leave June 3. During the investigation, officials learned Gorgulu also had taken items from the store. They found the merchandise during a search of the deputy’s personal vehicle.

Gorgulu was charged with filing a false police report, assault under color of authority, assault with a deadly weapon and looting, prosecutors said. He had served the San Bernardino Sheriff’s Department for 11-and-a-half years and was fired Monday.

“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,” 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. Community trust is absolutely essential for law enforcement to exist and be effective. I will not allow criminal acts to go unchecked and assure the public our deputies will be held to the highest standard.”