Merced County officer charged with assault on paid leave

A Livingston police officer, who has been accused of felony assault by a public officer for an incident in 2012, is on paid administrative leave, the Merced Sun-Star has learned.

Tyson Perry, 37, pleaded not guilty to the charge in Merced Superior Court. The alleged victim also named Perry in a lawsuit along with the city of Livingston.

Livingston police Chief Ruben Chavez said he could not discuss details about the incident or Perry’s employment.

“Officer Perry is employed with us as a police officer, but he’s on administrative leave,” he said.

Perry, who was a sergeant at the time, is charged with assaulting Dwight Larks, according to a copy of the criminal complaint. There was no record of Perry being arrested or booked into jail in connection with the allegations.

Larks, a 38-year-old real estate agent, is seeking unspecified damages in a lawsuit against Perry and the city of Livingston. He is seeking compensation for his medical care, loss of wages and distress, as well as the “deprivation of civil rights,” according to the claim filed in Merced Superior Court.

We believe Officer Perry will be cleared of all wrongdoing

Alison Berry Wilkinson, the officer’s attorney

According to the civil lawsuit, Perry was married to Larks’ one-time girlfriend.

The alleged assault happened May 21, 2012, outside Larks’ home in the 1200 block of C Street in Livingston, when Perry supervised the mother of Larks’ child during a custody exchange, according to the claim.

Larks claims there was a disagreement over when and where the parents were to exchange the child, and what was required under the terms of a court order. During the confrontation, according to the claim, Perry ordered Larks to turn around several times.

The claim says Perry used his police radio to call for another officer. At that point, Larks claims, he did not put up a fight when Perry placed him in handcuffs, but said he did not understand why he was being arrested.

Larks claims he asked Perry if the arrest had anything to do with his connections to the officer’s wife. Perry gave an expletive-laced response that included the words “payback” and “karma,” according to the complaint.

Police officers in Livingston make between $42,168 and $51,240 annually, according to the city’s salary schedule.

According to the claim, Larks said he was not resisting arrest but was thrown to the ground while handcuffed. His head, shoulder and knee struck the ground on the way down. Perry then used his hand to drive Larks’ face into the ground again, according to the claim.

Alison Wilkinson, Perry’s attorney, denied the officer used more force than was necessary, calling it a “lawful arrest in a reasonable manner.” Wilkinson said the claims of assault made by Larks are exaggerated.

“We believe Officer Perry will be cleared of all wrongdoing,” she said.

Larks’ attorney could not be reached for comment Thursday.

Larks was cited for resisting arrest and violating a court order, according to Merced County booking records.

The civil matter is scheduled to go through a mandatory settlement conference in February, and a trial could begin in March, according to court records.

Perry is scheduled to appear in court on the criminal matter at 8:30 a.m. Sept. 8.

Police officers in Livingston make $42,168 to $51,240 annually, according to the city’s salary schedule.

Thaddeus Miller: 209-385-2453, @thaddeusmiller