Vigil held to protest beating of man with Down syndrome: Family calling for justice

Antonio Martinez beaten by deputy Dec. 18

VISTA, Calif. - A North County citizens group held a vigil on Saturday in Vista to protest the beating of a man with Down syndrome by a sheriff's deputy.

On Saturday, 10News spoke with the family of 21-year-old Antonio Martinez a month after he was viciously beaten near his family's bakery in Vista.

"He didn't have to use that kind of violence against him or anybody," said Martinez's younger sister, Jessica. She is still very upset about what happened to her brother.

On Dec. 18, Martinez was walking to his family's bakery when sheriff's deputy Jeffrey Guy saw him and thought he might have been involved in a domestic dispute, according to sheriff's department. Sheriff's officials said Guy told them he saw Martinez pull his hoodie up over his head. It was cold that night.

Guy said he told Martinez to stop, but Martinez kept walking. Then, as the sheriff's department admits, Guy pepper sprayed Martinez and beat him with his baton.

"We are making justice because he has Down syndrome and it's not fair for him to... what they did to him, what they did to him," said Jessica Martinez as her eyes filled with tears.

Martinez's father, Francisco, still has trouble talking about what happened to his son that night.

"I'm very confused," he said.

A sheriff's captain visited the family after the incident with apologies and an offer of a Christmas turkey. However, Martinez's family wants a lot more than that.

"The first thing I want is the sheriff's department... they have to fix this kind of problem," said Francisco Martinez.

Jessica Martinez said she knows the best way to start fixing the problem.

"I wish that the sheriff (deputy Jeffrey Guy) gets fired," she said. "He needs to get punished for what he did because if he just stays like that, he's going to do it all over again to other people."

The sheriff's department admits that the deputy made a mistake, but beyond that, the department is not commenting. They told 10News they do not comment on personnel matters.

The Martinez family has retained a lawyer.

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