State

Merced deputy charged with battery against wife

MERCED — A Merced County sheriff's deputy who is suspected of pushing his wife inside Merced County's main jail could lose his job and be barred from owning a firearm if convicted, according to the Sheriff's Department and the Merced County district attorney's office.

Deputy Johnny Mathis, who's on paid administrative leave, according to Cmdr. B.J. Jones, faces a misdemeanor criminal battery charge on suspicion of pushing his wife up against a closed door May 26 while on duty inside the main jail.

Jones said Mathis will be on leave indefinitely. An internal investigation is under way.

Mathis wasn't arrested after the incident because department policy doesn't require an arrest in all domestic violence cases unless there's evidence of injury, and in this case there was none, Jones said.

Jones said the department is taking the case seriously. There is zero tolerance for violence in the workplace, he said.

There's no double standard when it comes to domestic violence and law enforcement personnel, according to Jones.

"There's no dual treatment," he said.

As soon as the department is made aware of any domestic violence allegation, whether it involves a deputy or not, it is dealt with in the same way, he said.

When asked what might happen to Mathis, Jones said the deputy could lose his job, but "it's premature to speculate in any way, shape or form."

According to Harold Nutt, chief deputy district attorney, if Mathis is convicted of domestic violence, he could be barred from owning or possessing a firearm for 10 years.

If that happens, said Jones, Mathis wouldn't be able to do his job.

"I don't see how anyone could be a deputy without being able to carry a firearm. That is one of the essential parts of being a peace officer," said Jones.

Mathis' union, the Merced County Deputy Sheriff's Association, didn't return calls for comment.

A battery conviction can result in a $2,000 fine or up to six months imprisonment.

Mathis' arraignment date hasn't been set.

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