'We Love Hunting Wetbacks'

Costa Mesa Latino alleges Bizarre beatdown by OC Sheriffs Deputies

At that point, Barcelo says, the deputies released him from his hogtie restraints and told him to stand up. "One deputy slapped the back of my head in an almost playful manner and said something like 'You're not gonna tell anyone about this, are you?'" the complaint states. "They told me I better keep my mouth shut . . . [and] told me to get the hell out of there."

Barcelo got back in his vehicle, continued to Anaheim, picked up Skoglund and returned with her to Costa Mesa, where she and her fiancÚ were staying at the Ali Baba hotel while searching for an apartment.

"When I saw him, his whole body was shaking," Skoglund says. "His left arm was bruised and he had bumps on his head. His ankle was totally swollen, twice the size of the other one. He was standing next to the sink and he fell down. He was out cold for 30 seconds."

Skoglund says Barcelo laid down for an hour, but passed out again when he tried to stand up. Figuring he was suffering from a concussion, she and her fiancÚ drove Barcelo to UCI Medical Center's emergency room. A hospital report documents bruises to Barcelo's head, face and legs. When Barcelo told medical staff he had been attacked by Sheriff's deputies, two Orange police officers arrived at the hospital. "I refused to speak with them unless I had an attorney," Barcelo says. "They weren't too happy about that."

That night, Barcelo contacted E.J. Stopyro, a San Juan Capistrano defense attorney who had represented Barcelo when he was arrested at UC Irvine for having a legally-registered firearm and prescription medication in his car. Stopyro called the FBI, which refused to investigate, and gave a detailed report of the alleged beating to the Orange County District Attorney's office, which forwarded it to the Sheriff's Dept.'s Internal Affairs division.

Three days later, on Jan. 22, Barcelo's complaint alleges he was on his way to visit Skoglund in Costa Mesa when he realized he was being again being followed by the Orange County Sheriff—this time by two vehicles. After they passed him, the complaint states, an unmarked car pulled up behind Barcelo, flashing a red light through its windshield. Two white men in their 30s wearing white shirts, black baseball caps and sunglasses ordered Barcelo out of his vehicle and forced him face down onto the sidewalk. "They told me repeatedly that I better keep my mouth shut," Barcelo's complaint states. "One of them also said something like, 'We have a permanent solution for people who don't shut up.'"

According to Barcelo's complaint, Skoglund's fiancÚ, who asked not to be named in this story, was walking down Newport Blvd. on the evening of Jan. 26, when a "black and white police car" pulled over next to him and a uniformed officer asked if he was a friend of Barcelo's. The complaint states that one of the officers told him "'what's done is done' and something to the effect of 'he better let sleeping dogs lie.'" Skoglund's fiancÚ refused to speak to the Weekly. "He's afraid of the police," Skoglund says. "So am I. They beat the shit out of my friend."

Barcelo acknowledges he has no physical evidence to back up his story, which while seemingly sincere, is strange to say the least. However, he believes he could identify at least one of the deputies he claims assaulted him. Sgt. Roland Chacon, a Internal Affairs investigator, confirmed that his office had received Barcelo's complaint. "We're going to conduct a very thorough investigating into the allegations of Mr. Brian Barcelo," he said. He added that while Sheriff's deputies are allowed to stop vehicles on Orange County freeways, the only time they patrol cities such as Costa Mesa who have their own police departments is when they are working with local law enforcement agencies on specific investigations or actions.

Barcelo says the beating he suffered at the hands of the Sheriff's Deputies reminds him of his childhood in the 1970s, when his was the only Mexican family on the block. "Now there are a lot of yuppies living here, but back then it was all white working-class," he says. "I'd have kids pelting me with rocks when I walked back from school and even the parents were opening the doors yelling 'Go back to Mexico!' I dealt with this on a continuous basis. This brought back a lot of bad memories. I've never lived my life looking over my shoulder. But now I do. It makes you feel really shitty."

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