Four police officers in California have been arrested after they allegedly beat and abused 13 children at a boot camp for at-risk youth. The program was run by police in San Luis Obispo.
Huntington Park Police officers Detective Marissa Larios, 36, and Officer Patrick Nijland, 47, were arrested along with South Gate Police Officers Carlos Gomez-Marquez, 31, and Edgar Gomez, 35, ABC 7 reported. They were taken to the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Department.
A judge ordered a $20,000 bond for each officer, which they were able to post.
The arrests occurred after a two-month investigation. Investigators reportedly interviewed 37 individuals at the boot camp that happened at the California Army National Guard Military Base in San Luis Obispo.
The investigation concluded that there were at least 13 victims involved. The ages of the victims ranged from 12 to 17 years old.
The incident occurred during the one-week camp that last from May 17 to the 24. The investigation began after the sheriff’s department received a report of child abuse from the camp.
An attorney for a number of the kids involved in the case said that some children were beaten bloody, according to ABC 7. One even suffered broken fingers.
Victims claim that they were assaulted by their drill instructors.
Officials arrested Gomez and Gomez-Marquez on charges of felony willful cruelty to a child, criminal threats, as well as criminal conspiracy. There was also a misdemeanor charge of criminal battery and abuse under the color of authority.
Larios and Nijland were arrested on similar charges.
The South Gate Police Department posted a statement on their website, which said, in part:
"The South Gate Police Department supports the members of its police department in the hard work and danger they are exposed to on a daily basis. However, we also take allegations of wrongdoing by any members of our department very seriously.
“We support the San Luis Obispo sheriff’s and the District Attorney’s Office regarding the need for transparency in this matter and we will continue to cooperate with them as is necessary and appropriate.
The statement added that the officers involved in the incident were "placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of this case."
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