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Turlock man charged in assault on officers
Lionel Villanueva

A 41-year-old Turlock man was arrested after he fought with three officers and kicked two of them during a Monday morning incident in downtown Ceres.

Officers were dispatched to a call about a suspicious man lurking around in the area of Third and Magnolia streets in Ceres at 1:42 a.m. Monday.

Ceres Police Officers Matthew Berlier and Julio Amador arrived at Third and North streets and found Lionel Villanueva standing by a light pole near the Masonic Lodge. As the officers approached, Villanueva took off running north across North Street and was found behind the medical building at the northeast corner of Third and North streets. He then jumped the fence into the AT&T lot.

Officer Berlier jumped over the fence after him, which is when Villanueva turned around to scale the fence back where Officer Amador was waiting. Villanueva sat atop the fence and refused officers’ orders to get off and surrender.

The suspect then jumped back into the AT&T lot where he confronted Berlier, who used pepper spray. Ceres Police Department spokesman Sgt. Jose Berber said the spray had no effect, other than to agitate Villanueva.

Amador jumped the fence to help Berlier in an arrest attempt, but Villanueva became enraged and began to kick officers as he held onto the fence railing.

Amador was kicked in the chest and Berlier kicked in his leg. Both officers struck Villanueva multiple times with a baton, but he kept fighting. A third officer, Jon Vera, arrived and was able to physically restrain him for an arrest.

Villanueva was transported to the hospital for treatment of the injuries from baton strikes. He was also checked out medically since officers suspected he was under the influence based on his behavior and irrational statements. He was later charged with two counts of assault on a peace officer, probation violation and making threats to the officers.

Sgt. Berber said Villanueva has had multiple encounters with Turlock Police.