Army recruiter arrested in sex case

For the second time in less than a year, an Inland military recruiter has been arrested on suspicion of engaging in a sex act with an underage girl.

Christian Rigal Mercado, 25, of Moreno Valley, was jailed Wednesday after a security guard at the Inland Center Mall in San Bernardino reported that he saw him involved with the girl inside a parked car. Mercado later posted $50,000 bail.

The 17-year-old girl was a potential U.S. Army recruit, said San Bernardino Police Department Lt. Dan Keil.

Mercado, who was booked on suspicion of oral copulation with a minor, worked as a recruiter out of the Army’s office on Mt. Vernon Avenue in San Bernardino. He has been suspended from recruiting duties pending an investigation, army officials said.

“We’re a values-based organization, and basically, we have no tolerance for infractions of the law,” said Nya Paul, a spokeswoman for the Army’s Southern California Recruiting Battalion, which oversees the Inland region’s offices.

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Man beaten by police finds his shop robbed

A man captured on a cell phone video being beaten by police has spoken to officers since his release from jail after authorities declined to file charges against him.

But the conversation wasn’t about the arrest or the video.

Darren Johnson, 43, the owner of a San Bernardino barber shop, found his Sierra Avenue business burglarized and ransacked after his release from custody.

“He doesn’t know who’s responsible for that. And he had to file a report with the same department that brutalized him,” said Carl Edwin Douglas a Beverly Hills-based attorney representing Johnson.

Douglas said Johnson discovered the break-in Oct. 28, several days after he was released from West Valley Detention Center in Rancho Cucamonga.

Police confirmed the burglary but said no one had been arrested. They were investigating.

“It appears just miscellaneous property was taken,” police Lt. Dan Keil said.

Douglas said he is trying to track down witnesses who saw Johnson’s Oct. 19 arrest at the corner of Highland and Mountain View avenues in a 7-Eleven parking lot. One person filmed Johnson’s arrest using a cell phone. The video shows a San Bernardino officer striking Johnson repeatedly with a baton.

Police have said they pulled over Johnson for various vehicle-code violations and that he became agitated and struck one of the officers while they were talking to him. An officer then began hitting Johnson with a baton while another tried to handcuff him.

Police arrested Johnson on suspicion of possessing and transporting drugs, as well as assault on a peace officer.

Johnson denied ever being in possession of drugs, Douglas said.

“I have no idea where that allegation came from,” he said.

The San Bernardino man spent several days at Loma Linda University Medical Center before he was booked into jail. Since then, he has received regular therapy for his injuries.

“Right now, he is receiving therapy for compound fractures of several bones in his hand. He is seeking therapy for problems with his eyesight and vision. He will be seeking therapy for the horrific bruises to his shoulder, side and leg,” Douglas said. “And he will be receiving therapy for staples on his head from the blows he suffered there.”

The attorney said Johnson plans to file a claim with the department regarding the beating, but he did not specify when.

“We’ll worry about the legal process once we get him healthy,” Douglas said.

Meanwhile, the San Bernardino County District Attorney’s Office said there was nothing new regarding the criminal charges against Johnson.

“That is still pending review and further investigation,” said district attorney’s spokeswoman Susan Mickey.

Johnson’s barbershop, called The Shop, has been closed since his Oct. 19 arrest. His injuries have kept him in bed and unable to run his business.

Wife of beaten suspect struggling with unanswered questions

SAN BERNARDINO – A San Bernardino barber shop owner who was the subject of a videotaped beating by police was held nearly two days without being booked into jail or charged, and denied a phone call, an attorney for his family said Wednesday.

CBS-KCAL video: Caught on tape: Officer Beats Suspect With Baton

It was only after the Mayor‘s office intervened on the family’s behalf Wednesday afternoon that Darren Johnson, 43, was allowed to call his wife and tell her what had happened.

Johnson reportedly told his wife in a call from Loma Linda University Medical Center that he suffered a compound fracture to his hand, and has stitches to both legs and his head, among other injuries.

An iPhone video of his arrest taken by an eyewitness shows an officer repeatedly striking him with a baton while another officer holds him on the ground in the parking lot of a 7-Eleven at the corner of Highland and Mountain View avenues.

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San Bernardino Police Department examining video of suspect being beaten

SAN BERNARDINO – The San Bernardino Police Department on Tuesday was scrutinizing an eyewitness video which shows an officer repeatedly striking a motorist with a baton while another officer tries to hold the suspect down.Police Lt. Dan Keil said Darren Johnson, a 43-year-old San Bernardino resident, was pulled over at about 10:30 p.m. Monday in the 200 block of West Highland Ave.

Two officers witnessed several vehicle code violations, including failure to stop at a stop sign and failure to stop at a traffic signal, Keil said.

“After being contacted, he became increasingly agitated and aggressive and struck one of the officers,” Keil said.

Johnson was booked into West Valley Detention Center in Rancho Cucamonga on suspicion of possession of cocaine, transportation of cocaine and assault on a peace officer, Keil said.

Keil said Tuesday that he did not immediately know whether the officers would be suspended, but that the incident is under investigation.

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Inland police adjust to vehicle search limits set by Supreme Court

Inland police agencies may have to revamp some policies in the wake of a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision that limited officers’ ability to search the vehicle of someone they have arrested who poses no threat.

Some Inland officials say there will be little impact on the ability of police to do their jobs, while others have argued the ruling means officers will be less safe.

Critics have also said the decision means weapons that would have been found during such vehicle searches will now remain on the street and lead to other crimes.

“The U.S. Supreme Court sets the legal standard and the DA’s office follows the law,” said John Hall, spokesman for Riverside County District Attorney Rod Pacheco, in an e-mail. “We will be looking at this for an arrest and what led to any search, then make any filing decisions accordingly.”

See also; Supreme Court Cuts Back Officers’ Searches of Vehicles

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