The Santa Barbara District Attorney’s Office has filed felony charges against two Sheriff’s custody deputies for unnecessary use of force. According to the legal filing, the formal charge is “assault by public officers.” It stems from a June 17 incident in which the deputies, Robert Kirsch and Christopher Johnson, allegedly “assaulted and beat” an inmate named Charles Alonzo Owens at the Santa Barbara County Jail.
According to a press release issued by the Sheriff’s Office, the incident was brought to light by the Public Defender in a June 18 complaint. At that point, the Sheriff’s Office investigated and passed on its findings to the DA. Sheriff Bill Brown said in a statement, “The behavior alleged in the criminal complaint is contrary to the high standards of the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office. I am saddened by these allegations that do not reflect the conduct and actions of the vast majority of the hundreds of men and women of the Sheriff’s Office, who dedicate their lives to protecting and serving others.”
The deputies have been placed on administrative leave. Arraignment is scheduled for August 30 and will be prosecuted by Deputy District Attorney Anthony Davis.