Gonzalez said he learned immediately after the incident that Carrillo had been at the jail to visit his brother. He said he began making calls to learn more about Robert Carrillo's arrest and found out that two others who had been with him fled the scene.

Gonzalez said he called the anti-gang deputy who made the arrest. The deputy, an old friend, texted him the photograph of Robert Carrillo. The photo was a close-up shot of him with a bloodied, bruised nose and scratches and scrapes to his face.

Gonzalez said he doesn't know why his colleague sent him the photo. "Why do guys do stupid things?" he said. "I don't know."

Three hours after receiving the photograph, Gonzalez texted back a booking photo of Gabriel Carrillo, which showed his injured face, along with the text message saying "we did a better job."

Gonzalez insisted that he sent the photograph as part of official law enforcement business to determine whether Gabriel Carrillo was one of the two people who had run away when his brother was arrested. The accompanying message, he said, was intended to tease his friend about how the jail deputies had not allowed their suspect to flee the scene, whereas his friend had let his two suspects get away.

Sheriff's investigators interviewed Gonzalez last year about the force used against Gabriel Carrillo but did not bring up the texts, Gonzalez said. The sergeant said he voluntarily told them about the messages when the investigators asked whether there was anything they didn't know about the incident that might embarrass the department.

Gonzalez said he mentioned the texts out of concern that someone might misunderstand their meaning. "I'm a police officer. I think five steps ahead," he said. "Could it be taken out of context? Absolutely. Would I do it again? Absolutely not."

Gonzalez has been on leave since January as the internal investigation continues, said sheriff's spokesman Steve Whitmore.

"If something like this turns out to be true, it could very well lead to a person's termination," Whitmore said.