Victorville, CA – A California man who was captured on video as he brutally pummeled a San Bernardino County sheriff’s deputy in her face, stole her gun, and opened fire has been found not guilty of assault with a firearm on a peace officer and attempted murder.
Now-former San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department (SBCSD) Deputy Meagan McCarthy said she was stunned when the verdicts were returned on May 31.
“Disbelief. I didn’t believe it,” McCarthy told KABC. “I think it took a couple hours to actually hit me.”
Her attacker, Ari Young, also faced charges of resisting arrest, removal of an officer’s sidearm, battery against a peace officer, and negligent discharge of a firearm.
The jury convicted Young on the negligent discharge of a firearm offense, but was unable to reach a verdict on the remaining three counts, KABC reported.
Due to the amount of time Young had been in jail awaiting trial and the fact the jury only convicted him on the single count, he was released and is back out on the streets, according to the news outlet.
Young’s defense attorney, Raj Maline, placed blame on Deputy McCarthy for the incident and claimed she had no right to try to detain his client when she arrived at the scene in response to a frantic 911 call from Young’s mother.
“The issue was, was the initial detention of Mr. Young legal?” Maline said, according to FOX News. “If it’s not, then he’s not guilty… He could punch her 100 times, and it wouldn’t matter.”
He argued Young was just acting in self-defense.
“His whole thing was, I didn’t do my job right. I had no right to detain him. I had no right to search him,” McCarthy told FOX News. “But that’s exactly what we are trained to do. That’s exactly what peace officer standards in training from the state of California says to do. It just set him off. It was like a trigger for him.”
The horrifying attack occurred outside a home on Cabazon Court on Sept. 4, 2019, KABC reported.
The SBCSD had received a 911 call from a woman who reported she was involved in a domestic disturbance with her son.
Deputy McCarthy did not know that Young, then 21 years old, had also been diagnosed with schizophrenia.
“All the information that dispatch relayed to me was a woman was on the phone saying ‘Oh my god, oh my god; get my son out of here,'” McCarthy told KABC. “As I’m walking up to the front door of that house, I see the front door open, and out comes the male – the suspect – and the woman who I assume is the reporting party. And she has a knife in her hand and she’s on the phone with dispatch.”
McCarthy said she made her way to the driveway, at which point Young confronted her “head on.”
“He’s very, very angry; he’s very upset. His fists are clenched,” she told KABC. “I walk around behind him, and put his hands at the small of his back. I tell him to relax, it’s okay, ask him what’s going on, just to pat him down for weapons and that set him off and began the assault.”
“Thirteen seconds into our interaction, he told me, ‘I will headbutt the f–k out of you,'” McCarthy told FOX News. “So, I knew his intentions weren’t going to be of compliance.”
Cell phone footage recorded by a neighbor showed Young punching Deputy McCarthy just before she fell to the ground.
He jumped on top of her and they fought over her duty pistol, but he was able to yank it away.
“A portion of me accepted that I was about to get murdered,” McCarthy later told KNBC. “I remember hearing the trigger click and I had so much pain to my face from him hitting me that I didn’t know if I had been shot. But I knew I had a little girl at home and I had to fight for her.”
As Deputy McCarthy scrambled to her feet and began running, Young appeared to shoot in her direction, the video showed.
“I turn and I run, and I run for the nearest cover I can find which is a bush,” she told KABC. “And I hear a gunshot go off, and I knew he was shooting at me.”
Additional deputies converged on the scene a moment later and ended up shooting Young multiple times.
The suspect was subsequently transported to a local hospital and survived.
Maline said the video might “look bad,” but he claimed it was only an “illusion” and insisted his client wasn’t trying to shoot the fleeing deputy, KNBC reported.
“It does look bad when you look at it at first glance,” Maline told KABC. “If you don’t ever look at it again or don’t study it, certainly it looks like my client is shooting at the deputy.”
He noted that a bullet hole found in a garage proved Young fired the gun “completely opposite” of where Deputy McCarthy was located, KABC reported.
He further argued the deputy had no right to detain his client in the first place.
“You can’t detain somebody because you want to do an investigation,” the defense lawyer told KABC. “The jury instruction that the court read to the jury said if you want to detain somebody, you have to have a reasonable suspicion that they’re engaged in criminal activity.”
McCarthy maintains she acted lawfully throughout the ordeal.
“I was called to that house; I see a situation where there’s a woman in such fear for her life that she’s armed [with] a knife; I have every right to believe maybe he has a weapon,” she told KABC. “Maybe he’s done something that she’s in fear? I would be derelict in my duty if I didn’t investigate.”
In addition to her physical injuries, McCarthy, a mother of two daughters, also suffers from PTSD as a result of the attack and was left with no choice but to retire.
“I loved my job,” the former deputy told FOX News. “I genuinely woke up every day excited to do what I was supposed to do and what I swore to do. And the fact that that was taken from me without me wanting it, makes me upset.”
McCarthy said she has done everything in her power told her attacker accountable, KNBC reported.
“If a video proof of a crime occurring is not enough to change a narrative that people hear, then what will be enough?” she asked.
According to the San Bernardino County District Attorney’s Office, a pretrial hearing on the three charges that resulted in a hung jury is now scheduled for June 30, KABC reported.