Two private security guards hired by an anti-abortion group face charges of battery and illegal possession of tear gas following an October 2020 confrontation outside a Planned Parenthood clinic in Walnut Creek, the Contra Costa District Attorney’s Office announced.

Security guards Ishatpal Momi, 27, of Elk Grove and Peter Reeves, 45, of Sacramento face misdemeanor charges for allegedly pepper-spraying four people last fall, according to the DA’s office.

The guards are also accused of possessing illegally large pepper-spray canisters, which are limited to 2.5 ounces by state law, said DA spokesman Scott Alonso. Pepper spray is governed by the same laws as tear gas in California.

The incident occurred Oct. 13 outside the Planned Parenthood clinic on Oakland Boulevard in Walnut Creek. The guards were hired by 40 Days for Life, an international Christian organization that holds vigils outside clinics that perform abortions. When a skirmish broke out with counter-protesters supporting the clinic, Alonso said, Momi used pepper spray on one man; 10 minutes later, Reeves allegedly sprayed three others.

In a telephone interview with The Chronicle, Brian Johnston of California Pro-Life said he needed more information about the case, including whether Planned Parenthood also had security guards at the protest. He questioned whether the decision to prosecute was politically or ideologically motivated and “if pro-life protesters have the right to free speech.”

“If it’s free speech only for people who believe in human abortion, it’s kind of an issue,” he said.

Walnut Creek police didn’t arrest anyone in October but forwarded information about the event to the DA’s office, which reviewed the details and decided to file charges. The defendants will be sent notices to appear for their arraignment on an unannounced date.