Warning: Disturbing content ahead
A group of Alameda County, California, sheriff’s deputies did not just beat a suspect with their batons for an extended period of time, but also stole his gold chain and took a “trophy” picture in the process.
Now the man, identified as Stanislav Petrov, is filing a lawsuit against them, claiming he had his hands out and ready to be handcuffed when the officers tackled him to the ground and began beating him up in November 2015.
Petrov's lawyers claim he had to be hospitalized for 12 days and suffered a concussion and several fractures due to the brutal arrest after he tried to evade the police in a car.
The car chase began in the parking lot of a motel near San Francisco Bay when deputies Luis R. Santamaria and Paul D. Wieber spotted Petrov allegedly stealing a Mercedes Benz.
The two tried to prevent Petrov’s escape by blocking his path with their squad cars, but the Mercedes rammed into them and sped away. The deputies chased the man across San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge where he was forced to abandon the car and tried to flee on foot.
Once they caught up with Petrov, they assaulted him, which lasted for about 40 seconds.
However, unbeknownst to them, a nearby security camera recorded the entirety of the violent arrest and contradicted the deputies’ report concerning the arrest. Department authorities ordered Santamaria and Wieber to rewrite the report once the video emerged on YouTube.
According to the lawsuit, the video shows one of the deputies walking away with a gold medallion from around Petrov’s neck that was not submitted as evidence, but was given to a passerby as bribe for his silence about the incident. It also alleges a deputy took a cell phone photo of Petrov as he lay crying and bleeding on the ground.
Both Santamaria and Wieber were charged with assault under the color of authority, battery with serious bodily injury and assault with a deadly weapon. The two deputies entered a not guilty plea and are free on $140,000 bail and are expected back in court this month.
Criminal justice experts have always stated that adrenaline-causing activities like car chases can result in troubling arrests. Although many cases end without incident, some like this one can become violent.
“They were expecting a bloody confrontation and resistance and when that didn't occur these deputies had trouble making the transition to calmly handcuffing a person who has given up,” said Seth Stoughton, a University of South Carolina law professor and a former police officer in Tampa, Florida. “When they have trouble transitioning to a calm arrest that is when you see officers completely get carried away and that is their fault.”
San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon said he did not condone the behavior of the two deputies.
“Policing that violates our constitutional rights damages the reputation of every person that wears the uniform, and it damages the public's perception of those that are sworn to serve,” Gascon said in a statement.