Video Shows Police Officers Punch Accused Man in Davis Multiple Times

Arrest photo shows Mr. Letelier with abrasions and bruising on both sides of his face

In July of 2016, while serving a warrant at the home of Eduardo Letelier in Davis, two Davis police officers punched the man three times in total, according to a video and transcripts from the trial.

Eduardo Letelier, then 43 years old, was arrested and accused of child molestation of a four-year-old girl in a high profile case involving a Davis daycare center.  He was also charged with resisting arrest.  Earlier this year, Mr. Letelier was acquitted of the charge of resisting, while the jury ended up hanging 9-3 on the main charge in favor of innocence, and the DA last summer allowed Mr. Letelier to plead to a misdemeanor child endangerment charge that does not require registration, rather than retry him.

It was during the course of the arrest that the video shows Officer Ryan Bellamy, the same officer who was one of the three Picnic Day officers involved in the incident at College Park and Russell, approach Mr. Letelier as shown on body camera video.

The video shows Officer Bellamy call out to Eduardo, whom he knew because officers had raided the Letelier home once before, two years ago, as they ransacked the place in a failed attempt to located stolen property.  This time Officer Bellamy yells out “Donde Eduardo?” and then you hear, “he’s running!”

But by the time the officer reaches the back gate, you appear to see Mr. Letelier simply standing there with his hands in the air.  Officer Bellamy runs up to him and punches him in the face, knocking the man to the ground.

At this point, joined by several other officers including Justin Raymond, they attempt to put handcuffs on him.  Off camera, Officer Raymond then punches Mr. Letelier in the head, who is on his stomach with several officers on top of him.

At one point an officer is heard saying, “Stop resisting!”

Mr. Letelier yells, “I’m not!”

Eventually, Mr. Letelier has his hands secured in the handcuffs and eventually had to be taken to the hospital due to his injuries.  The booking photos show abrasions and bruises on both sides of his face.

During the trial that occurred this past April, officers on the stand were confronted with this evidence but denied punching Mr. Letelier.

Still shot shows Mr. Letelier with a hand up as officers approach the gate at the rear of his home
Still shows both hands up just before Officer Bellamy punches him

Trial transcripts were obtained by the Vanguard, and under cross-examination from defense attorney Michael Chastaine they reveal the following.

Mr. Chastaine points to the ten-second mark in the video and says, “You can clearly see Mr. Letelier’s hands up, correct?”

Officer Bellamy acknowledged this, but then Mr. Chastaine continues, “And in fact, immediately after that you punched him in the face, didn’t you?”

Officer Bellamy: No.  I forced him to the ground.

Michael Chastaine: Are you saying you never punched him in the face?

Officer Bellamy: Yes.

After playing the video, Mr. Chastaine asks: Okay. What was that?

Officer Bellamy: Me pushing him to the ground.

During the cross-examination, Mr. Chastaine also played the video from Sgt. Michael Munoz, of which we do not have a copy.  That video shows the two punches thrown by Officer Justin Raymond.  The transcripts show that, around 13 seconds into the video, Mr. Chastaine asks: “That’s him punching Mr. Letelier in the face, isn’t it?”

Officer Bellamy: “I never saw him punch him in the face, and you’re showing me an image of his hip, trying to ask me what another officer was doing, but I didn’t see anything. I don’t know what he was doing.”

Later, when Justin Raymond was on the stand, he also denied seeing Officer Bellamy punch Mr. Letelier: “I don’t recall Detective Bellamy punching him.”

Mr. Chastaine: And we can also see the left hand also in the air. You see the bottom of his elbow, right?

Justin Raymond: I think so.

Mr. Chastaine: Okay. Well, I mean, he had his hands up, didn’t he?  You don’t disagree with that, right?

Justin Raymond: It looks like it here. Sure.

Mr. Chastaine: All right. So there he is. As Officer Bellamy comes to him, hands are still in the air, right?

Justin Raymond: Looks like it.

Mr. Chastaine: So where I am confused is, in your report you say, “Eduardo stopped running and reached his right and left hand toward his front waist.” When did that happen?

However, Raymond did admit he punched Mr. Lelelier – but three rather than two times.  “So within the first 20 seconds you already were punching him?”

“Right,” the officer responded.

“Three times.”

“Right,” he said.

The officer, however, was never able to find the point where he punched Mr. Letelier on the (Munoz) video.  “I feel like I have done my best to answer it that he was punched prior to being handcuffed, and the video that you’re showing doesn’t show that. The video isn’t going to show some things, and that’s one of them. He did get punched, but you can’t see it.”

The defense believed all along that Officer Raymond just punched him twice and he was covering for and accounting for Officer Bellamy’s punch, which he denied seeing, by claiming to have punched Mr. Letelier three times.

“I never understood why he covered for Bellamy,” Mr. Chastaine told the Vanguard.

Michael Chastaine explained that Eduardo Letelier testified during his trial, and testified to the fact that Ryan Bellamy punched him in the face.  “If you watch the video really carefully and move it through slow motion – it looks like he punches him.”

However, Ryan Bellamy continued to deny it under oath.  Mr. Chastaine told the Vanguard, “In my opinion he lied through his teeth.”  He claimed and he wrote in his police report (as did Justin Raymond) that Mr. Letelier had his hands in his pants.

Mr. Raymond wrote: “I saw Eduardo was trying to push his way back up using his left hand while shoving his right hand deeper into his waistband.”

That was the reason for pushing him to the ground because Raymond was afraid Letelier was going to get a weapon.  “You look at the (still) photo, it’s clear that Eduardo has his hands up the entire time.”

As Mr. Chastaine explained, “We went through the video frame by frame with Bellamy, in front of the jury.”

He added, “There wasn’t a thing that Bellamy said that I thought was true.”  He said, “He would never concede what was shown to him on the tape.”

Mr. Chastaine explained that he kept trying to ask both officers to identify when Mr. Letelier’s hands were in his pants.  “What he wrote in his report was something that was completely contradictory and untrue,” he said.

Michael Chastaine believes you can see the Justin Raymond punch, as well.  “You see the arm, or more the elbow thrusting forward – boom, boom.  The way he’s laying on him, it’s real clear he’s punching him.”

He added, “When they’re done with him, his face (Eduardo’s) is all bruised.  So we know he got punched in the face.

“The issue wasn’t whether Raymond punched him – he clearly did, and he acknowledged that – the question is whether he punched him because Eduardo was resisting or not.  While he’s punching him, Eduardo’s hands are behind his back in the process of being handcuffed and he’s going ‘I’m not resisting, I’m not resisting.’”

Chastaine later told the Vanguard, “In my opinion Eduardo is 100 percent innocent.  The fact that he had to ultimately plead to a misdemeanor never has sat well with me.”

However, he said, “After going through a trial, we just didn’t think that he could withstand the stress of going through another one.  He plead to a non-registerable misdemeanor with credit for time served.  It’s almost like it was an insurance policy.”

He explained that he has been an attorney for 32 years, “and I rarely say this about clients,” “I’ve represented thousands of people and I will rarely say that I 100 percent believe that person is innocent but I absolutely believe that Eduardo was innocent.”

Michael Chastaine believes that the officers here took a case where a man was accused of child molestation and simply administered “street justice,” trying to justify it with a claim of resisting arrest.  Mr. Chastaine explained, “This happens all the time.”  He said, “The cops beat the crap out of somebody and then they charge him with resisting arrest.  I see that all the time.”

With body cameras these days, he said, “I see more and more often, the guys aren’t resisting.  They are just laying into him.”

Based on a tip from the Vanguard, the Davis Police Department has opened an internal investigation into this incident, which is proceeding just as we await the results from the Picnic Day incident.

—David M. Greenwald reporting

About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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47 thoughts on “Video Shows Police Officers Punch Accused Man in Davis Multiple Times”

  1. Keith O

    Officer Bellamy runs up to him, punches him in the face, knocking the man to the ground.

    I’ve watched the video five times and didn’t notice any punch.

  2. Claire Benoit

    I dont like the Davis PD…. but it is really hard to dislike an officer punching a “man” in the face whose been accused of molesting a 4 year old child…. I would have a hard time feeling mad at a cop for doing worse to such a “person.” That said; I guess there’s a chance the man is innocent… But I am always inclined to believe a child is telling the truth and gets betrayed by a system that holds vulnerable victims to an impossible standard of evidence…

    Also, I actually didn’t see too much of a punch either. Lots of plumber pants going on, no punch. (?)

          1. David Greenwald Post author

            Because the punch is more complicated to see – Eduardo is wearing a black shirt, he’s tall so when Bellamy goes in close you don’t see the head – you can see the arm swing, you can hear it, you can see Eduardo flinch and then fall backwards, but you don’t see first connect on face. Watch right between 10 and 11 seconds and turn up the sound, you can clearly hear the contact.

        1. Keith O

          Now David, if the tables were turned and it was a cop claiming he was punched but the video was inconclusive as this video obviously is would you be so inclined to side with the cop?  I’d bet you would be saying the video isn’t proof enough.

          1. David Greenwald Post author

            Don’t forget, here’s what we have here:

            1. There is visual evidence of a swing and a connection, just can’t see the actual point of contact
            2. There is audio evidence of contact
            3. You see him react to it and fall backwards
            4. You have the admission of the other officer of three punches (and only two punches visible on the other video)
            5. You have the testimony by the officers that is inconsistent with the video
            6. You have the police reports that are also inconsistent with the video
            7. You have Eduardo’s testimony
            8. You have the jury findings

            The only thing you don’t have is the clear view of the punch on the video

        2. Tia Will

          Keith

          I also do not see the punch. However, what I can see is that from 22 to 33 seconds, there are two instances in which you hear an officer say “stop resisting”. The second time this is said, you can see that they have secured both of his hands behind his back, & there is an officer on top effectively preventing any movement. To me, this use of the phrase, “stop resisting”, is a ploy to cover the use of excessive force on a man who has already been rendered incapable of resistance. Why else would an officer continue to repeat it when the suspect was already secured ?

        3. Howard P

          Tia… ask any police officer, no matter how “enlightened” they may be… even folk in shackles can be dangerous/resistive… often, it is said to keep those handcuffed, etc., from hurting themselves…

    1. Tia Will

      it is really hard to dislike an officer punching a “man” in the face whose been accused of molesting a 4 year old child…. I would have a hard time feeling mad at a cop for doing worse to such a “person.” That said; I guess there’s a chance the man is innocent”

      This is a very frightening position to me. Our police and justice system are premised upon the presumption of innocence. There is no such thing as “street justice”. There is street thuggery and street brutality ( not so long ago blacks in the south were hung on suspicion of being “disrespectful” to a white woman). There is abuse of power and and excessive use of force. But we have a rule of law that does not make provision for “street justice” and we fail to protect that process at our own peril.

      1. Claire Benoit

        Tia I totally agree with you and am not at all for police brutality. I was only expressing that of all the many cases of cops overstepping their boundaries and abusing their power – cases of brutality against child rapists/murderers are less likely to stir people.

        If I look at everyone in this scene from a human perspective  – I feel like it would be an extraordinary feat even for police officers – some of them fathers to small children – to restrain themselves. His is a most horrific crime unless he is innocent. And its not the cops job to decide that he is not, I agree. I am only saying that it is very hard to feel upset by the behavior of cops once their victim has been identified as a “monster.”

        A little off topic but I recently saw a horrifying news story about a nanny in Russia who brutally a murdered a 4 year old little girl while she was sleeping. I was blown away by how restrained the Russian officers handling her were. Even the slain child’s mother seemed to be reserved in her animosity; despite being crushed by the loss of her child. I don’t think I could ever be so kind to someone who had done something like this. Seeing how that awful woman was treated really made American police look “bad.” (At least from what our media shows).

        We have people beaten to the ground for j-walking, killed for searching for a license. Go figure.

        1. Tia Will

          Hi Claire

          I totally understand your point & the emotional difficulties faced by police. I think that my “they need to suck it up and do their job humanely” attitude may be due to my profession. Doctors are trained to compartmentalize our own feelings and take the best care possible of each patient no matter what they may have done. That is what we are paid to do, that is what we pay the police to do. If they are not capable of performing their duties appropriately, that does not necessarily make them a “bad person”, but it does mean that they need to be in a different profession and that we should not let them slide.

  3. John Hobbs

    ” I would have a hard time feeling mad at a cop for doing worse to such a “person.” That said; I guess there’s a chance the man is innocent…”

    [edited]
    Keith still thinks Liston took a dive. Try playing it back at .25 speed. at about :10 into the playback you clearly see a right fist knock Mr. Letelier to the ground. That is the same cop that came out of the van staggering and swinging on Picnic Day.

    I’m saddened that Mr. Letelier was forced to plead to that nonsense charge.

    [moderator] edited: no personal attacks, please

    1. Keith O

      Still don’t see it even at .25 speed. I think we have people letting their anti-cop bias cloud their judgment. I’m not saying it didn’t happen but the video doesn’t show the punch.

  4. Howard P

    Inconclusive… like Keith, I see no punch… I do see a fist placed in the small of the back… but no “delivery”… facial injuries look consistent with a hard take-down to a concrete/hard surface.

    Based on what was shown, am thinking there was an unnecessary hard take-down… which is still a problem… perhaps over-reacting if children and/or others present?  Still a problem.

    Someone is lying, to be sure.

    Frame by frame can also be deceptive, as anyone who understands animation well knows… easy to read things into a script that isn’t there.

    Inconclusive, but worrisome.

    The task of defense can be to sow ‘reasonable doubt’… they are not charged with discovering truth.

  5. WesC

    As a former nurse with approx 20yrs of correctional nursing experience these are examples of what I have witnessed:

    Detainee brought into hospital by officer for evaluation of injuries to determine if he can be jailed or needs treatment.  Detainee is cuffed behind his back with legs shacked laying on a gurney on his side entering triage room. He mouths off to the officer who promptly jumps on him and begins punching him in the face and body with closed fists.  This punching continues unabated and witnessed by 3 nurses and a physician.  Finally one of the nurses has seen enough and physically has to throw herself between the officer and the detainee while yelling at the officer to keep his hands off her patient.  When asked if any of the nurses or the physician were going to report the officer they all said no.  They related how recently this same thing had happened and a physician filed a complaint against the officer and subsequently for several weeks had squad cars park and sit in front of the physician’s house every day for no reason, and tailgate her where ever she went.

    Detainee/inmate  mouths off to officers.  Officers find the biggest, craziest, most violent predator, and that person becomes the cellmate of the one who mouthed off.

    Detainee/inmate refuses or does not comply with a direct order fast enough and gets thrown to the ground and a “hog-pile” with several officers jumping on top of the inmate ensues.  Pile-on continues long after detainee is no longer resisting and is now complaining he can’t breath and becoming unresponsive.  I now get the crash cart, tell the Sgt. that the detainee is not going to be alive much longer unless they get off him, that we are going to end up having to do CPR on him and he will end up in the ER and maybe dead with the Sgt. having to explain what happened.  This is a pretty common scenario.

    I am actually surprised they didn’t shoot him and give the usual excuse of  “subject became combative, exhibiting apparent super-human strength and reaching into his  waistband. Fearing for my safety that he would get a weapon out of his waistband or get a hold of an officer’s weapon, I discharged my firearm”

  6. Alan Miller

    I am not one for censorship, but this isn’t a cinema movie.  I fail to see the value of arse-crack here.  As in release of siliceous 911 tapes for entertainment.  People living life, and when crisis hits privacy out the window and all is out there for public ‘entertainment’ to no public value.  These laws need to change.

    1. David Greenwald

      When I read comments like this my reaction is I can never win.  I don’t have the technical ability to black stuff out.  So I either show something as is, or don’t.  I’m really damned if I do and damned if I don’t.

      At least Keith asked a reasonable question.

      1. Alan Miller

        David, this was not directed at you, nor did I mean to imply you did anything wrong.

        I have always found the release of 911 tapes for entertainment, just because they are public record, abhorrent.  I wonder if some, celebrities especially, don’t call 911 because they know the call will become public.  Like the tape of William Shatner discovering his wife’s body in the pool.  Why should we all hear that?  Of what value?

        This, as public record, is showing someone at their worst moment in an embarrassing situation , for all to gawk at.  Fine if he is guilty, a horror show for the person if not.

        I am sensitive to this as I had a friend recently a side-victim of a horrible crime, and all the siliceous details in the paper about the details of the worst moment of their lives.  All public record, but really only of value as entertainment.  I’d never considered what effect that has on someone until it happened to someone I knew.

         

    2. Claire Benoit

      Keith if you can edit my tasteless joke about the pants – please do. I really dont know anything of this case. If the man is innocent – my heart goes out to him. If he’s guilty – well… I am not evolved enough to feel compassion for him. Is this case posted some where? I don’t understand how someone can be accused of molesting a child to begin with unless it’s a fact. But I am sure it happens.

      1. Howard P

        To be clear, the article is not about his alleged behavior regarding a child/children (which he was found not guilty, as he was charged), but about the secondary charge of resisting arrest, and the manner of his arrest.

        By removing yourself from jurisdiction, you appear to have no worries about the manner of arrest of yourself.  Nor, resisting arrest.  Maybe flight to avoid prosecution… but that is not the current subject.

        Avez joyeuses fêtes en France!

        1. Claire Benoit

          Howard – you seem to be extremely fascinated with my case. Please do go read the open court papers on it so that you can cease attacking me anytime I comment on DV. (Assuming youre reasonably intelligent).

          « To be clear the man  was accused of child molestation, degree unknown… »

          To that all I can say is you make me extremely uncomfortable. Is there a tolerable degree of molesting kids in your mind? Could it be anything but severe when the child is FOUR years old?! Gross.

          Agreed thats not the point of this article. I most apreciated Alan’s comment. After going through all that I have I totally empathize with someone’s life being ripped apart by a wrongful accusation with their most humiliating vulnerabilities put on display… which is why I feel bad for joking about the guys pants IF he is innocent.

          And now I ask you to please respect the stories of people on here enough to stop directing your attention toward mine any time I post. You have ZERO idea of some of the things Ive been put through due to this. Your lack of sensitivity and arrogance alongside willful ignorance is… worse than a bad pair of pants to be sure.

          Have a great day.

        2. Howard P

          Actually, I find it interesting how fascinated with the case of Eduardo Letelier… particularly charges for which he was found “not guilty”.

          C’est vrai, vous ne comprendez pas.  C’est dommage.

        3. John Hobbs

          “C’est vrai, vous ne comprendez pas. ”

          Peut-être qu’elle est intentionnellement obtuse.

          (Perhaps she is intentionally obtuse.)

          Elle est certainement franche dans ses préjugés envers les hommes.

          (She is certainly frank with her prejudice toward men.)

          Thank you for giving context to her comments.

          ” I don’t understand how someone can be accused of molesting a child to begin with unless it’s a fact.”

          Search McMartin Pre-school, Dan and Fran Keller, Sean Lanigan, the San Antonio Four. Then read:http://www.scielo.org.za/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S2225-71602016000100006

           

  7. Howard P

    David… the apparent injury in the arrest photo is more indicative of impact with hard surface, than fist(s).

    Someone would have to have a really huge fist to break skin in a nearly linear way, from cheekbone to forehead.  No sign of bruise/swelling near the eye itself.  If indeed he was punched, there is nothing even slightly suggestive that it was to the face.  That dog don’t hunt.

    The attorney specializes in defense of:

    drug and white collar offenses,
    mortgage fraud allegations,
    sex offenses,
    crimes of violence,
    DUI cases, and
    DMV hearings.

    Source:  http://www.chastainelaw.net/

    He served his client well, raising doubts, and himself well by saying the plea bargain was against his better judgement, and he believes the client was guilty of nothing (which is not the subject of the piece), and the police were guilty of everything.  Not buying his narrative as to what actually occurred, but have to respect his ability to not only get the client off with time served, and to get the PD to start an investigation based on the VG tip.  Wake up and smell the coffee… he’s setting the VG up to help him pursue a civil suit against Davis PD, which he’ll probably agree to settle, on behalf of his client, where the attorney gets 25-50% of the settlement?

    How many defense attorneys do you know who would pass so much info/opinion outside the courthouse? Think about that.

    Now, back to the officer(s)… given the timing, and what appears to be an unnecessarily forceful arrest, and one officer involved in two incidents in a short period of time, yeah, it should be subject to review in tandem with the Picnic Day fracas… which the defense attorney probably knew about…

    Am thinking you’re getting ‘played’ here, David.  And it appears you’re ‘gut-hooked’…

    1. Tia Will

      Keith

      I saw your response and that of Howard. Neither of you chose to respond to my statement about the repetition of the phrase “stop resisting” when it is clear from the tape that the detainee has already stopped resisting. Both of you chose to present some hypothetical situation in which the detainee might still be dangerous. I do not deny that such situations do exist, only that there is no evidence of that in this case.

      1. Keith O

        Tia Will, you have no way of knowing if the detainee is resisting or not.  Maybe he was trying to muscle out of the cop’s hold and making it harder for them to handcuff him causing the police to have to use more force in order to clip on the cuffs?

        1. David Greenwald Post author

          We do have a way of knowing if he was resisting – we can see it on the video. Certainly nothing to justify a use of force and certainly as well not enough to get the jury to convict him on that charge.

        2. Keith O

          No you don’t for sure, you can’t tell from the video if the detainee was trying to stop the cops from cuffing him by refusing to allow his wrists to be pulled together.  Eventually the cops did cuff him but it could be that the defendant was resisting them from doing so, therefor the order of “stop resisting”.

        3. David Greenwald

          I agree that we don’t know for sure but you said “we have no way of knowing” – I don’t agree.

          I would say as well none of the police’s claims seem to match up:

          1. They claim he was running – you see him standing at the gate as the officers approach and punch him.  He told me he was actually coming into his yard from the neighbors when they arrived and he couldn’t have run if he wanted to – bad knees, etc.

          2. They said he was reaching into his waistband.  But neither officer could point to that on the tape and it appears that his hands were up the whole time (the few seconds – there was a long exchange on that).

          3.  So then they claim that he was not cooperating with his hands when he has officers on his back punching away?  I don’t buy it.

        4. Howard P

          NFL uses at least 3 camera angles to “review” a call on the field that is challenged. And that’s a “game”.

          I count at least three officers… the piece refers to at least a second video.  Which DV admits they do not have.

          The video shown is not the officer(s) directly involved in the take-down.

          Inconclusive.  As to resistance and as to punches, if any.

          Enough though, to prompt further internal investigation/review, to be sure.

           

  8. Tia Will

    Howard

    the apparent injury in the arrest photo is more indicative of impact with hard surface, than fist(s).”

    With three years experience covering ER’s including multiple facial wounds, I disagree. You are making the assumption that all of what we see occurred from the same impact. These facial wounds are entirely compatible with three punches or two punches and a side walk impact. What we can tell is that there was no laceration to the supraorbital vein which is what usually gives one the more classical appearance of the “black eye”.

     

  9. Claire Benoit

    John – my being « prejudiced toward men » only works if I believed all child abusers are men. I dont believe that nor did I say that.

    what I do find hard to believe is that a child would lie about being molested or otherwise abused. I think more oft than not kids are ignored, discredited, and manipulated into feeling guilty/crazy for speaking the truth. I always side with children unless a great deal of proof proves otherwise.

    Howard – I was not fascinated with the case for the mans proposed innocence. I know nothing of this case and said it. I am passionate about very very few things. One of them is children and my disdain for people hurting them. Not that my views/character have ANYTHING to do with this. But it seems I cannot post without you two weirdos coming out to engage and insult me.

    Ive now used the great ignore commentor option on both of you. Perhaps it works both ways? And if so you wont see this reply. Enjoy your lives being the hot stuff my intuition tells me you both probably are. 😶

    1. Keith O

      But it seems I cannot post without you two weirdos coming out to engage and insult me.

      LOL, you hit the nail on the head.  Claire, glad you have come back and are posting again.  Ignore the trolls.

    2. Moderator

      Claire is right about the nature of these comments. In the past I’ve pulled them, but since she did respond I’ve left the exchange. However, I won’t in the future. They are off topic and they are personal attacks on another Vanguard participant — both violations of the Vanguard comment policy.

      1. John Hobbs

        Balderdash! You most certainly did not leave the exchange and have misrepresented remarks that made you uncomfortable, though were factual and relevant. I have not attacked Ms. Benoit, nor in anyway threatened her or her children. What a load of steer manure.

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