The tort claim, a precursor to a lawsuit, filed by the groom, Robert Kerns, seeks $2 million in damages claiming "excessive force" by police. According to the claim, at least seven victims suffered physical and emotional injuries following the Jan. 17 wedding "because of the unjustified excessive force used by Barstow Police Department officers."
According to TMZ, a number of the guests were trained MMA fighters and two were allegedly wrestling outside the Quality Inn Hotel in Barstow when police arrived. However, according to the complaint, the wrestling, or "horseplay," had stopped before the officers got there.
Kerns' attorney said that security guards asked the wedding party to keep the noise level down after a few other guests complained, but as employees were speaking with people from the Kerns wedding party, officers arrived and "began yelling and using profanity at those present."
"Absolutely nothing was happening when the officers arrived," Kerns' attorney wrote.
A short time later, one of the officers allegedly Tased one of the men, who was rendered unconscious. Video also shows one of the officers punching a suspect.
Multiple other guests or people in the wedding party were also violently detained, the complaint alleges. It also states that the violent arrests were taking place in front of several infants and young age children.
"The uncontrollable cries of some of the children can be heard on the video," Kerns attorney wrote. "No child should ever have to see their loved one beat unjustifiably by law enforcement ever, especially at a joyous family function."
Three people were reportedly arrested.
The Barstow Police Department has since opened a use-of-force investigation, with Interim Chief of Police Andrew Espinoza writing in a letter to community members, "The video circulating appears to show a Barstow Police Officer striking a person during an arrest; I became aware of this video when a member of our community forwarded it to me. I want the community to know that we train our officers to respond to incidents in a professional manner and to utilize de-escalation techniques. We take use of force incidents seriously and I want to assure the community that I have initiated an administrative investigation to determine that the actions of the officers were within policy. I want to personally thank the community for its patience and support as we navigate through this incident together."
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