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Former San Bernardino County sheriff’s deputy charged with assault, theft while on duty

A former San Bernardino County sheriff’s deputy faces criminal charges for allegedly hitting a man with a baseball bat, filing a false police report and stealing from a sporting goods store after responding to a call during the unrest in early June that followed the death of George Floyd.

San Bernardino County prosecutors said Wednesday that they had charged 46-year-old Erdem Gorgulu, who was an 11-year veteran of the Sheriff’s Department, with one felony count of assault with a deadly weapon, one felony count of assault under color of authority, one misdemeanor for filing a false police report and one misdemeanor for looting — a special charge in California covering burglary and theft that occurs during a state of emergency.

On June 1 about 2 a.m., Gorgulu, who was then still employed by the department, responded to a call about a burglary at a Big 5 Sporting Goods store on Highland Avenue in San Bernardino, according to a statement from the department.

Once there, Gorgulu came across Juan Martinez and, prosecutors allege, assaulted him with a baseball bat. Gorgulu booked Martinez into custody on suspicion of looting, burglary and committing a felony while out on bail, according to the Sheriff’s Department.

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A sheriff’s deputy who thought that Gorgulu’s behavior was “unwarranted and unethical” alerted a watch commander, officials said. The department then launched criminal and an internal administrative investigations, placing Gorgulu on paid administrative leave June 3.

During the criminal investigation, officials looked into whether Gorgulu had taken property from the business. After serving a search warrant, the department said investigators recovered stolen property from Gorgulu’s personal vehicle.

As of Monday, Gorgulu was no longer employed by the Sheriff’s Department, 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 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.”

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It was not immediately clear who is representing Gorgulu.


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