Brutal Beating by Alameda County Deputy Sheriffs in San Francisco

Alameda Beating
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Alameda Beating

Alameda County Public Defender Brendon Woods is up in arms and demanding possible criminal charges against two Alameda County Sheriff’s Deputies, who appear to be seen in a video beating a suspect with batons following a high-speed chase from the East Bay to San Francisco.

“The surveillance video footage is disgusting and reminds me of Rodney King,”  Mr. Woods said in a statement. He is requesting San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon and California Attorney General Kamala Harris conduct a criminal investigation into actions of two unnamed sheriff’s deputies for their alleged actions against 29-year-old Stanislav Petrov.

“When we see something like this we have to question whether there are other incidents that were not caught on video. Is this a one-time incident?” Woods said. “What other cases are these officers involved with? We have an obligation to protect our clients and the community.”

Sheriff Gregory Ahern put the deputies on paid administrative leave Sunday, based on the results of an investigation his office launched on Friday when the video was released by the San Francisco Public Defender’s Office.

While the video footage is a bit grainy, what the video shows is unmistakable: two sheriff’s deputies finally catch up to a suspect fleeing into San Francisco after crossing the Bay Bridge. It is as Public Defender Brendon Woods put it – something out of the Rodney King beating.

The deputies first tackle him, then they begin hitting him, first with fists, then batons, swinging the clubs down with both hands as the man lies on the ground, moaning.

A representative from the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office said that an internal investigation revealed enough that the deputies were placed on administrative leave on Sunday. “The sheriff was clearly concerned about it,” he said of the video.

According to published accounts, the pursuit of 29-year-old Stanislav Petrov began in the early morning hours of Thursday, November 12, when he was found in a stolen vehicle. Mr. Petrov would crash that vehicle into two patrol cars, knocking down a deputy.

He then led deputies on a 40-minute chase from San Leandro through Oakland into San Francisco, where he hit a parked car and tried to flee on foot.

Like the Rodney King video from 1991, the video picked up just before the deputies tackled him at 1:30 am, but it did not capture the previous encounter.

According to officials in the sheriff’s department, Mr. Petrov had several warrants for his arrest, including one for assault with a deadly weapon.

The San Francisco Public Defender’s office believes that, while the deputies appear to hit Mr. Petrov for 20 seconds, it probably went on for twice that long as the camera recorded in intervals of 10 seconds on and 10 seconds off.

Whatever the ultimate length, the video itself shows about 30 blows administered by the sheriff’s deputies.

According to the Chronicle, “The deputies involved filed use-of-force reports disclosing that they deployed their batons, Nelson said, and indicated that they believed the man was on drugs and that they did not know what he was capable of.”

“Unfortunately, the video doesn’t seem to be 100 percent complete,” Sergeant J. D. Nelson, from the sheriff’s office, told reporters. “We’re not getting the entire picture. With that said, the sheriff has ordered a complete and immediate investigation. We want to see if there is any other video, and if we can get the complete video without the breaks in it, as well as any other body camera video that might have been in play by those deputies, the other deputies that responded or by San Francisco police.”

However, San Francisco Public Defender Jeff Adachi said that the deputies actions in the video were clear enough.

“From what you can see on the video, he’s turning the corner and they’re able to subdue him,” he said. “They clearly had him on the ground. He didn’t pose any threat at that point, and they are clearly using excessive force and trying to seriously hurt him when he was on the ground and subdued. I don’t see any reason why he couldn’t be handcuffed and taken into custody. The blows, after they took him to the ground, were excessive by any measure, any standard. It’s shocking to see.”

His counterpart in Alameda County, Brenden Woods, added that the video pointed to the importance of body cameras for police officers. “If you’re fleeing or have done something to antagonize officers,” he said, “they often feel use of force is justified, which is not the case.”

—David M. Greenwald reporting

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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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22 thoughts on “Brutal Beating by Alameda County Deputy Sheriffs in San Francisco”

  1. PhilColeman

    This video was posted elsewhere and a former colleague sadly called it to my attention earlier and commented that it was really, “Hard to watch.” He always was the master of the understatement.

    Any contention that the suspect was resisting the actual taking into custody will fall on deaf ears to anybody possessing any sense of basic fairness and justice. My eyes saw the suspect slowing down and submitting once he knew he could not get away, or was out of gas.

    The Bad Guy gave up. Had the first deputy also stopped, kept his safety distance, allowed his buddy to join him, ordered the suspect to raise his hands and drop on his knees, triangulated the suspect and cuffed him, then this video would have been published throughout the law enforcement community as a model for an appropriate take down of a fleeing suspect. They could have been rock-stars and rode the TV-circuit of “cops doing something right in front of a video camera” for a refreshing change of pace.

    Instead, two careers are down the drain and both will probably end up in jail, a few more hundred-thousand people’s minds are further poisoned by hearing the very word, “police,” and the bad guy is going to get a huge severance check for stealing a car and imperiling three communities with his driving. The deputies “ran” into a perfect storm, politically. San Francisco, a political posturing DA and PD, election time, and a irrefutable video tape. I would not be the least bit surprised if the local Russian Consulate chimed in.

    Don’t even imagine this case coming to court, the bad guy can’t be charged because no DA with an IQ beyond a peach stone will want these two arresting deputies on the stand for cross examination. And should the impossible happen, and deputies not plead out, the criminal prosecution will be somewhere else besides San Francisco.

     

    1. Biddlin

      “Instead, two careers are down the drain and both will probably end up in jail,”

      Their fault, Phil, but like the cop culture demands, the rationale for  this attack is

      “. The deputies “ran” into a perfect storm, politically. San Francisco, a political posturing DA and PD, election time, and a irrefutable video tape.”

      No, Phil, two thugs with badges who have always gotten away with this kind of behaviour, because the culture praises and rewards such “heroism ” tried to beat a man to death, because they were pissed off that he ran away from them,

      “They could have been rock-stars and rode the TV-circuit of “cops doing something right in front of a video camera” for a refreshing change of pace.”

      Why do you think there are thousands of documented incidents of police abuse for every one of  “cops doing something right in front of a video camera”?

      The police culture preaches elitism and exhibition of force.

    2. sisterhood

      ” “Instead, two careers are down the drain and both will probably end up in jail, a few more hundred-thousand people’s minds are further poisoned by hearing the very word, “police,”…” ”

      Mr. Coleman,

      For most of my years on this earth, I was the proud daughter of a cop and  was almost a cheerleader for law enforcement. When anyone trash talked cops in my presence, I gently suggested they may not understand what a stressful job it is. In the sixties, I witnessed my father sleep deprived on many occasions. I felt sorry for him because he worked two additional part time jobs (janitor,  and occasional clerk at a fish market,  on his days “off”) to provide for four children, a wife, and his mother-in-law. He also helped his sister in law and her husband, who had muscular dystrophy.  He served on our town council and helped with the St. Vincent DePaul Society. Our door was always open, but our neighbors rarely bothered my dad at home. He was, pretty much, a model citizen and all around nice person who did not sleep much.

      I’m sad to agree with you that anyone viewing the video will probably have their minds “poisoned”. (“Poisoned” is a strong word, but probably justified.)

      Some days I scour the news for positive stories about helpful cops. It helps me deal with chronic anxiety from being mistreated by the Dixon Police Dept. many years ago.

    3. Paul Thober

      “The Bad Guy”? I see two guys acting badly in the beating of a guy who had acted badly, but no longer was.

      Phil, I think you know as well as anyone that if there were no video or credible witnesses that the recipient of that beating would most likely have been accused of resisting arrest along with whatever other crimes he had committed and that any claim of excessive force by the deputies would not have been sustained. This kind of behavior by law enforcement officers is far too common. I think there should be sentencing enhancements for LEO’s who break the law similar to when common criminals use a firearm in the commission of a crime.

  2. PhilColeman

    ” thousands of documented incidents . . .”

    “The police culture preaches elitism and exhibition of force.”

    “two thugs with badges who have always gotten away with this kind of behavior . . .”

    “the cop culture demands . .”

    I’d be willing to offer a comparison, in the most public venue possible, that I possess a far greater insight on every aspect of the police culture, than you. Start with your full real name and credentials.

    If , for example, you have any knowledge of the “two thugs” and them having always gotten away with this kind of behavior, please provide all the details in support. Begin with their names and priors.

    1. Napoleon Pig IV

      You might have “a far greater insight on every aspect of the police culture. . .” But, it doesn’t really matter. What these two cops did is wrong. Most cops are good. These two are not. Period.

    2. sisterhood

      “…start with your full real name…”

      Mr. Coleman,

      Why do you care if a reader uses their real name? Do you understand  that the reason I do not use my real name is that I am still frightened of the Dixon Police?  I don’t care if a reader comments without using his or her real name and you shouldn’t care, either.

    3. hpierce

      Ok,  neither Phil nor I really need your name (sorry to pretend to speak for you, Phil)… Phil and I like cites that we can judge.  Independent, verifiable cites… preferably those that are not significantly biased.

  3. Biddlin

    Deflect all you want, the evidence is overwhelmingly on my side. The gunslingers we hired 175 years ago, to stop the other gunslingers from robbing and raping us,  organized. Doing research for a non-fiction tale about an unsolved homicide, the last couple of years, I’ve spent a lot of time in cop bars, just sitting there in my golf shirt and khakis, listening. Even my cynical ears were shocked at the hatred of the public and racism casually tossed around in anecdotal accounts of their shifts.  I also suggest that the public read cop blogs, real eye-openers for those who believe the cop next door is just a regular guy.

    1. Anon

      Having no personal experience other than observation from afar, it seems like cop culture starts at the top.  If the Chief of Police demands good behavior from his cops, it is less likely there will be excessive use of force.  But I would certainly hate to paint all cops with as broad a brush as you seem to be doing, Biddlen.  There are videos out there of outstanding police work, and most of my interactions with cops have been very good.  I did have a single incident in which a police officer got out of control and was giving me an unnecessarily hard time, but his fellow officers did not back him up, but in fact protected me and my three children.  There are bad apples in EVERY PROFESSION.

    2. Frankly

      I have have direct knowledge of the stuff of law enforcement, and also Biddlin’s world of musicians.  And I have found many more “bad” people in the industry of music than I have the profession of law enforcement.

      However, I think Biddlin is correct in his assessment that these two cops were pissed that he ran away from them… actually, probably pissed that he rammed a patrol car and potentially harmed one of them.

      It seems to be the common thread.  When a bad guy threatens the cops with harm in any way, they go extreme.

      1. Biddlin

        ” When a bad guy threatens the cops with harm in any way, they go extreme.”

        How were the cops threatened by this unarmed, prone suspect?

        They weren’t. They just had to show that you can’t question their authority and beating a suspect is the best way to do that, right?

      2. Biddlin

        “I have found many more “bad” people in the industry of music”

        I heard a sucky bass sax player last night, myself. I’m also pretty sure he didnt take his sax and assault anyone with it, non musically, anyhow. One thing I’ve noticed is that no matter how stressed British and French cops sre, they are polite. No cursing and screaming when serving warrants, good day sir and thank you when tourists try to crowd into crime scenes. I just did a quick survey of the six elderly musicians present and among us, one has been arrested (for a joint, in San Francisco in 1967)and we have a total of six traffic tickets (2 are mine) so although not a significant sample, we don’t think you know spit from Shinola.

    3. sisterhood

      “Even my cynical ears were shocked at the hatred of the public and racism casually tossed around in anecdotal accounts of their shifts.”

      If those cops were sober, shame on them. If they were in a public place getting faced and saying stupid racist garbage, shame on them. Hell, if they were in their own homes saying racist garbage, shame on them.

      “…those who believe the cop next door is just a regular guy.”

      My cousin is a cop back east and he really is just a regular guy.  I also have several friends, mid-west and back east, men and women, who are retired and they are just regular people.

  4. Tia Will

    If elitism can be characterized by considering police to be the “good guys” in what is essentially seen as a “good guy vs bad guy scenario” then even our local police and sheriffs can be characterized as elitist by their own words. This was a phrase used not once, but many times by many of the speakers in Citizens Academy. This is a presentation in which the police are introducing themselves and their activities to members of the community and so presumably trying to put their best face forward. Even in this setting they relied heavily on this “good guy” vs “bad guy” story.

      1. Tia Will

        BP

        Most cops are the “good guys”.”


        And clearly, from this video, some are not. My point was about the inherent “elitism” which needlessly separates the police from the communities they serve, not about numbers. I believe that if the police were to focus upon the “protection” aspect of their job instead of the “beat the bad guys” aspect of their job, we might see less of this kind of brutality.

  5. WesC

    Not nearly as bad of a beating as Robert Leone got at the hands of the Pennsylvania state troopers in 2010.  Leone was beaten several times by the police including once while in a hospital, and was even charged with assault on a police officer because he broke the officers fist with his face.  This Alameda guy will will get millions and unfortunately all Leone got was 4yrs in prison.  The general assessment is that Leone’s beating is even worse that the Rodney King beating by a long shot.

    http://www.policestateusa.com/2014/robert-leone/

  6. Tia Will

    BP

    I have never noticed this “elitism” you’re talking about”

    Then I recommend that you attend the Citizen’s Academy which is held in Woodland. It is very hard to miss the degree of separation that the police feel from the population that they are charged with protecting even when presenting their activities in the best light possible.

      1. Biddlin

        Or perhaps you refuse to open your own eyes.

         

        http://www.policemisconduct.net/what-can-criminal-charges-against-cops-tell-us/

        http://lawenforcer.net/whycops/whycops.htm

        http://www.policechiefmagazine.org/magazine/index.cfm?fuseaction=display_arch&article_id=1828&issue_id=62009

        You never change things by fighting
        the existing reality. . . . To change
        something, build a new model that
        makes the existing model obsolete.
        —R. Buckminster Fuller

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