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Ex-deputy gets probation for striking inmate
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The former San Joaquin County Jail deputy accused of striking a defenseless prisoner in front of two Manteca Police officers has pled guilty and been sentenced to information probation, community service, and anger management.

Matthew Mettler, who was working as a correctional officer in 2017 when the assault was reported to authorities, was accused of striking Emmanuel Reyes in the head as he sat on the floor inside of the San Joaquin County Jail, his hands and feet shacked and his head covered by a “spitting hood.” Two Manteca Police officers who were present at the time of the incident reported it to their superiors. A formal complaint against Mettler was filed the month after the incident took place – which was captured on surveillance footage. 

Mettler, who hasn’t worked for San Joaquin County since March of 2018, was sentenced to two years of informal probation and was ordered to complete 150 hours of community service and 16 hours of anger management after pleading guilty to a single count of assault by a public officer. He will not face any jailtime for the incident. 

The San Joaquin County District Attorney’s office, which prosecuted the case, released the video footage of the incident around the time that Mettler separated from the Sherriff’s Office showing Mettler strike Reyes – who was being held for public intoxication after being transported by Manteca Police. According to authorities, Reyes became combative both physically and verbally during the booking process, and a hood to prevent him from spitting on deputies was placed over his head for the protection of staff. 

Attorneys had filed a request to review Mettler’s personnel files to search for past incidents that may have shed light onto a pattern of troubling behavior. While the motion was granted the information was never made public because of confidentiality laws. 

News of the case added to a series of damning announcements during March of 2018 that rocked the Sheriff’s Office – including news of an officer that allegedly struck an inmate multiple times, and another story of a transport deputy that forced himself onto female inmates when transporting them between the San Joaquin General Hospital and the jail. 

Then-Sherriff Steve Moore stood behind the decision of the DA’s office to charge the officers at the time, and in a letter noted that the Sheriff’s Office participated in the investigations that led to the charges that were ultimately filed.  

“Sadly, we have had more than one incident in the jail come to light in the past six months,” Moore wrote at the time. “While unrelated, the cases all share the common thread in that our investigators and DA’s office worked diligently to seek justice, and we will continue to do so in the future.”

To contact reporter Jason Campbell email or call 209.249.3544.