The first arrest of PCSO Deputy Joseph Mercado, 25, made headlines. According to an arrest affidavit, Mercado went to a woman’s home around 3 a.m. on Feb. 15 and said he had to discuss a “serious incident he witnessed.”
The affidavit said he spoke with the woman in her driveway and she repeatedly asked him to leave. He then allegedly started masturbating and used his finger to put semen on the woman above the neckline of her shirt. Authorities say he also tried putting it on the victim’s lips but she pulled away.
The woman continued to ask him to leave and went into her home. Mercado was arrested and fired.
Sheriff Chris Nocco said other people came forward after hearing about the case and said the sheriff’s office failed to deal properly with other incidents.
Nocco held a news conference Friday to explain how the agency dropped the ball.
Nocco said Mercado went to a home on Catalona Drive on Dec. 8. and arrested Edward Roe, Jr., for possession of meth. Mercado found a bag with drug supplies, then tossed the bag over a fence, Nocco said.
The next morning, a neighbor checked a home camera and noticed that Deputy Mercado had tossed the bag onto his property. The residents found syringes and a spoon with residue inside the bag.
One of the people decided to destroy the bag. The neighbors believed the deputy was trying to set them up.
After several days, one of the men went to the sheriff’s office and explained the incident. But the district captain did not notify any other departments about the incident, so it was never investigated.
Later at the county jail, arrest papers show Mercado found syringes on Roe as the suspect was being booked for possession of marijuana, possession of meth and possession of drug paraphernalia. The deputy is accused of throwing away the syringes. They should have been kept as evidence, arrest papers say.
“Nothing happened. Nothing happened,” Nocco said. “No call crime to major crimes. No call to internal affairs. Nothing happened,” he said.
When a sheriff’s office major got wind of the incident in March, he immediately notified the sheriff.
“There was a systemic failure in that district to do the right thing,” Nocco said. “I promise you, we’re never going to set someone up.”
Mercado was arrested for tampering with evidence Thursday night.
“I can imagine there will be a few more [incidents involving Mercado],” Nocco said.
The head of District 1 has since resigned, Nocco said.