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Gay remark triggers major cop response

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Gay remark triggers major cop response

Detained by officers in Morenzone Field just south of the Manteca Golf Course parking lot John Herman McFarland, 18, screams at a family member trying to comfort him as multiple officers hold him ...

GLENN KAHL/The Bulletin


POSTED May 13, 2009 1:47 a.m.
A gay remark — taken as an insult — set a chain of events in motion that brought the arrest of John Herman McFarland, 18, and sent a Sierra High School junior to county hospital.

It began as  a call to Manteca Police that several teens were dragging an unconscious and bleeding high school student down the sidewalk on Parkview Avenue toward Sierra High School that quickly brought a half dozen patrolmen to the scene.

School resource officer Eva Steele was first on the scene at about 2:45 p.m. to find the bloodied 16-year-old sprawled on the Winters Street sidewalk where his friends had set him down.

Officers located blood stains on the sidewalk a block from the park at Pantera Avenue as well as in the center of the roadway.

Police said the teens  had  apparently been attempting to get the youth away from another group at the park where an 18-year-old man had responded to a gay remark by knocking him to the ground.   Witnesses told police they thought some of his injuries were caused when he later stumbled and fell.

The two groups had been drinking in the park when the incident occurred, police said.  Officers first feared the battered teen had major injuries because of the amount of blood flowing from his wounds.

Witnesses told officers of the responsible 18-year-old  who fled the scene on a blue bicycle as the ambulance rushed the injured student to San Joaquin County Hospital.

Patrol units fanned out in the nearby neighborhoods searching for the  suspect as well as going to his home in the 300 block of North Union Road where a maintenance man said he had just broken up a fight and had chased the youths off.

Police cleared the residence and confirmed that he was not inside as other officers talked with residents across the street.  A short time later McFarland was located at Morenzone Softball Field of Center Street just south of the Manteca Municipal Golf Course.

Admittedly gay,  he told a family member in front of officers detaining him that he had hit the teen and that he saw him  bleeding when he left him.  

McFarland became violent with officers as they attempted to restrain him on the north side of the field.  A family member attempted to console him but that only worsened his violent reaction as police called for a Hubble restraint that four officers used to place him in a patrol car -  he immediately attempted to kick out the side window.

Police charged McFarland with being drunk in public and initially refrained from filing assault charges.  He was transported to San Joaquin County Jail in French Camp.

The injured teen was later released from the hospital Tuesday night. He reportedly suffered multiple contusions.  The visible loss of blood had reportedly brought on early speculations of a more critical condition for the youth who police said also had been drinking.

Officers also noted that the incident was not believed to have been gang related.
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