From: SF Chronicle
By: Ashley McBride, 3/11/2019
A San Francisco sheriff’s deputy will face trial in May on charges that he punched a handcuffed inmate in the face several times in front of other officers in 2017.
Deputy Linton Martin, 55, was assigned to San Francisco’s county jail number 5, located in San Bruno. According to the San Mateo County district attorney’s office, which is prosecuting the incident, Martin was in a jail interview room on June 21 with two inmates who were handcuffed to each other. At one point, one of the handcuffed inmates hit the deputy in the face, and Martin called for assistance. Another deputy and a sergeant responded.
With the other two officers present, Martin handcuffed the inmate’s wrists behind his back and allegedly said, “Oh, you’re safe now, you know the other deputies are here.”
Martin reportedly then pushed the inmate’s head down and punched him in the face three or four times with a closed fist, while the inmate was still handcuffed behind the back. The other officers intervened and separated Linton from the inmate, who did not want medical treatment and did not suffer any physical injuries, according to the district attorney’s office.
The deputy faces a charge of assault by a law enforcement officer, which carries a sentence of up to a year in jail — double the punishment for a simple assault, because of the assailant’s position of authority, District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe said.
“(The inmate) hit the deputy but we have to pick somebody to prosecute and we’ve selected the deputy sheriff because he’s expected to show restraint and do things properly,” he said.
An initial internal investigation into the matter by the San Francisco Sheriff’s Office elevated the incident to the district attorney’s office for further investigation, sheriff’s spokeswoman Nancy Crowley said.
Nicole Pifari, Martin’s attorney, argues that Martin’s actions were self-defense.
“San Francisco Deputy Linton Martin was the victim of a crime, and now he’s the one getting dragged into criminal court. A career felon with a 20-year history of violent crime punched Deputy Martin in the head with a fist, hard enough to leave a large lump on his head,” Linton wrote in a statement. “What minor force Deputy Martin may have used was a completely lawful attempt to defend himself from another vicious attack. The inmate had no injuries, never complained of any pain, and in fact never complained about anything at all.”
In a hearing on Friday, a judge scheduled Martin’s trial to begin at 9 a.m. on May 6.
He still works for the Sheriff’s Office in an administrative role and doesn’t have contact with inmates, Crowley said. She could not say how long Martin has been with the Sheriff’s Office.
Martin’s case is not part of last month’s revelations of abuse, the majority of which happened in October and November of 2018, Crowley said. Fifteen men said they were assaulted or abused at the San Bruno jail, and 16 women said they were inappropriately strip-searched. None of those cases have led to criminal charges yet. Sheriff Vicki Hennessy announced this week that she is turning an investigation into the allegations over to the San Francisco department of police accountability.
A San Mateo County sheriff’s deputy also faces trial in a few weeks for allegedly assaulting three inmates at the county’s jail. Blake Lycette had been working for the Sheriff’s Office for six years and was assigned to Maguire Correctional Facility in Redwood City. Lycette, 42, allegedly punched inmates and pushed one inmate’s head into an elevator door in August 2018.
He’s been placed on administrative leave until the criminal investigation is over.
“This is not conduct we condone or believe represents the dedicated personnel here at the Sheriff’s Office,” Sheriff Carlos Bolanos said. “We take these allegations very seriously and want to thank everyone who came forward.
Lycette has a hearing on March 15 to enter a plea and set a trial date.
Correction: A previous version of this story misstated Linton Martin’s start date at the Sheriff’s Office.