San Bernardino

Caught on Camera: Apparent Use of Force by Deputy Prompts Investigation

Sheriff John McMahon said the deputy, whose name has not been released, has been placed on administrative leave

Warning: Some viewers may find this video disturbing.

The man who was arrested in what is being investigated as a rough arrest by San Bernardino County officials is now missing after he was released from custody, according to his family.

Family of the man, who was identified as 21-year-old Gerardo Bernabe Vasquez, said he suffered a "mental health episode" last month and are unsure if he relapsed. They are pleading for the public's help in finding him as well as seeking answers as to why police used excessive force.

"Nobody deserves to be treated like that," Rose Trujillo, Vasquez's aunt, said.

Video of Vasquez's arrest surfaced last week that shows a San Bernardino County sheriff's deputy possibly executing a rough arrest. The deputy is now on paid administrative leave while officials conduct an investigation.

Someone spotted the video on social media and sent it to the sheriff's department, although the altercation was already under investigation. 

The incident happened Jan. 26 around 1 a.m. on Highland Avenue near Cedar Street.

In the video, you can hear the suspect shouting while he's on the ground being held down by two San Bernardino County sheriff's deputies.

The man appears to be handcuffed and moments later, two deputies can be seen lifting him completely off the ground -- by his arms.

The suspect is then placed back down on the street. Then a deputy appears to kick him twice after he shouts again.

A few seconds later, the deputy appears to stomp on the man's head.

"Why would they do that - keep hitting him again and again when he was on the floor," Trujillo said. "What could he do?"

Vasquez's family said he was hospitalized for a mental evaluation a month prior to his arrest and disappearance.

"He would say he'd see things and heard things, so he was kept in a hospital," Trujillo said.

Sheriff John McMahon said he is "concerned with the level of force used in the video" by one of his deputies. He added that the department "will conduct a thorough and complete investigation."

Investigators have not released the reason the deputy stopped Vasquez in the first place, however they said the man was booked for resisting and obstructing an officer. Vasquez was later released with a citation.

The department is not identifying the deputy involved at this time due to the ongoing investigation.

The sheriff's department is looking to speak with anyone who may have witnessed the incident.

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