ATWATER -- Two Merced County sheriff's detectives and a Livingston employee were among the players involved in a bench-clearing brawl during a softball game in Atwater on Thursday night.
The Deputy Sheriff's Association softball team was playing the Steamers, a civilian team, at Osborn Park when the fight broke out.
A report by the Atwater Police Department says the two detectives were victims and that an opposing player threw the first punch, hitting a detective in the back of the head.
However, others said the detectives were the instigators of the fight, which arose when a member of the Deputy Sheriff's Association began trash talking to an opposing player's wife.
Sheriff's Cmdr. B.J. Jones said it was an off-duty incident and the two detectives involved are victims of assault.
"We have no reason to believe anything but (that) our deputies are victims of crimes," he said, noting that the players from the Steamers are listed as suspects in the police report.
The fight arose over a scoring discrepancy, which led Detective Roy Tighe to consult with the Steamers' scorekeeper, the wife of James Linan, a maintenance worker who operates a graffiti removal truck for Livingston, according to the police report.
Linan thought Tighe was disrespecting his wife, Tina, and the two men began arguing, according to the report.
Linan grabbed Tighe by the shirt and hit him, but Tighe subdued Linan, according to the report. He also identified himself as a peace officer.
Sheriff's Detective Corey Gibson was also involved in the scuffle, taking down a player who ran out of the opposing dugout and hit him, according to the report.
Gibson and Tighe reported that the Steamers players were yelling, "You're not cops anymore" or "You're not cops right now."
A friend of one player said the benches cleared, but that Steamers players backed off when the sheriff's department players threatened them with jail if they got involved.
Tighe and Gibson declined to go into detail about what happened, saying they would need permission from their supervisor before giving any statement.
Patrick Faretta, Atwater's Parks and Community Services director, said the city oversees activities at parks, including softball.
Though rare, fights between adults do happen from time to time during such activities, but not usually involving law enforcement officers, Faretta said, estimating that scuffles break out about once every three years.
"It's hard to believe, especially when sheriff's deputies are involved," he said. "You'd think they'd be above that."
Faretta said the fight will be investigated by the city, and "there will be some type of penalty, one way or another."
No arrests were made, and it's unknown whether any of the parties will pursue legal action.
No severe injuries were mentioned in the report.
Reporter Mike North can be reached at (209) 385-2453 or firstname.lastname@example.org.