LOS ANGELES – A former San Luis Obispo County sheriff’s deputy has been indicted on federal criminal charges alleging he abused a county jail inmate by dragging the victim by her hair on the ground from one cell into another jail cell and then obstructing a federal probe into his actions by lying about the incident in an official sheriff’s office report, the Justice Department announced today.
Joshua Fischer, 40, of Grover Beach, is charged in a federal grand jury indictment with one count of deprivation of rights under color of law and one count of falsification of records.
According to the indictment returned Tuesday, Fischer was a sworn law enforcement officer and San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Office senior correctional deputy assigned to work at the Intake Release Center in the city of San Luis Obispo between January 2017 and December 2018.
On November 18, 2018, Fischer allegedly used unreasonable force against a jail inmate who had removed her shirt, exited her cell, and then returned to her cell. Upon returning to her cell, Fischer then allegedly grabbed the victim from behind by her hair while she was still topless and dragged her on the ground into another cell.
Fischer then falsified a San Luis Obispo County sheriff’s incident report by including false statements that the victim had thrown her shirt on the ground after removing it outside her cell, that she yelled and flailed her arms while re-entering her cell, and that Fischer “was in fear for the safety of the other female arrestee in the cell” because the victim was “still without her shirt, yelling and flailing her arms,” the indictment alleges.
In fact, the victim did not throw her shirt on the ground after removing it outside the cell, she was not flailing her arms around as she re-entered her cell, but instead her arms were by her side and then near her bare chest when Fischer assaulted her, according to the indictment.
An indictment contains allegations that a defendant has committed a crime. Every defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty in court.
Fischer is expected to be arraigned on the indictment in the coming weeks at United States District Court in downtown Los Angeles.
If convicted of both charges, Fischer would face a statutory maximum sentence of 10 years in federal prison on the deprivation of rights count and 20 years in federal prison for the falsification of records count.
The FBI investigated this matter.
Assistant United States Attorneys Thomas F. Rybarczyk of the Public Corruption and Civil Rights Section and Frances S. Lewis of the General Crimes Section are prosecuting this case.