An altercation between police officers and Democratic supporters attending a San Diego fundraiser was motivated by anti-gay sentiment, San Diego Democratic Club officials allege.

Police were called to the private home of a lesbian couple hosting a fundraiser for Democrat Francine Busby on June 26. The San Diego Sheriff's Department said they were responding to a noise complaint filed by a neighbor.

Witnesses claim Deputy Marshall Abbott frightened twenty-five supporters when he struck Shari Barman, the sixty-year-old host, throwing her to the ground and then pepper spayed the crowd. Barman was taken into custody.

“He told me I was under arrest, grabbed my right arm, twisted it behind me and threw me on the ground,” Barman said in a statement released Monday. “Some of the 25 or so people who were still in attendance observed what was happening and started asking the deputy what was going on. My partner, Jane Stratton, asked him to please be careful as I had recently had right shoulder surgery. His response was to knock her to the ground.”

Busby, a longtime gay ally, is campaigning for California's 50th Congressional District, a seat currently held by Republican Brian Bilbray of Carlsbad.

During the event, a neighbor interrupted Busby as she spoke. The heckler called her a “loser,” and several witnesses say they heard anti-gay comments and profanity.

“To say that we are outraged with the behavior of Sheriff's Deputies and the expenditure of thousands of dollars of taxpayer money on what we believe was a bogus, politically-motivated alleged 'noise' complaint would be an understatement,” Larry Baza, president of the San Diego Democratic Club, said in a letter asking for a full investigation to be headed by the state attorney general.

Both the San Diego Sheriff's Department and the District Attorney's office are looking into the incident.