Merced man claimed police brutality. Now he’s charged with domestic violence

The Merced man who said police brutalized him outside a convenience store in March now faces new unrelated charges of domestic violence from August.

William Colbert, who says police unnecessarily used force while arresting him in the spring, appeared in Merced County Superior Court on Wednesday for his ongoing resisting arrest trial. While he was there, three new charges were addressed by the court.

Judge Jeanne E. Schechter noted Colbert has been accused of stalking and domestic violence over multiple incidents in August. The woman who made the claims appeared with Colbert in court Wednesday, and the judge ultimately ruled to allow peaceful contact between the couple rather than requiring a restraining order.

Colbert has pleaded not guilty to resisting arrest and battery on an officer during the March 12 incident in which he has claimed police brutality. What started with an argument with a clerk at a gas station at G Street and Olive Avenue ended with police using too much force on him at the store and again at Merced County Jail, he has said.

A welder and pipe-fitter, the 39-year-old Colbert said in a previous interview with the Sun-Star he was “irate” after one officer called him a “snitch bitch gang member.” He said he’s never been in a gang and expressed his anger by calling an officer a “bitch.”

He did not enter a plea on the domestic violence charges, asking the judge Wednesday to give him time to get an attorney. He wasn’t aware of the new charges, he said, though the woman who made the claims spoke on his behalf the same day in court.

Attorney Patrick Buelna is representing Colbert in the resisting arrest case, but not on the new charges. “It doesn’t affect Mr. Colbert’s case as it is,” he said outside the courtroom. “Beyond that, we’ll just move forward.”

Deputy District Attorney Walter Wall said Colbert is accused of striking the woman in the back of the head five to eight times after the two argued over a text message on her phone. The woman said she “saw stars” and possibly blacked out, Wall said.

She told police he hit her more times in other similar incidents on other days in August, Wall said. He showed up to a home where the woman was, took her cellphone and smashed it, and pulled her to the ground by her hair, Wall said while reading from a police report.

Colbert also made threats to “kill” the woman and another woman who tried to intervene, according to Wall.

It is the Sun-Star’s policy not to name potential victims of domestic violence.

The woman appeared in court on Colbert’s behalf, asking the judge not to require a restraining order, saying the incidents happened when the two were arguing while drinking alcohol.

Colbert has a 10-year-old prior charge for stalking that involved a different woman, according to court records.

Colbert was taken to Mercy Medical Center on March 12 following the initial use-of-force by police. Officers have said Colbert was combative, but the Merced resident says he never resisted arrest.

His mugshot from the night of the arrest, which shows his bloodied and swollen face, drew significant attention. The resisting arrest case is set for a preliminary hearing Dec. 17. The new charges will be addressed in a separate hearing.