Two Northern California sheriff’s deputies seen repeatedly beating a suspected car thief in a video were placed on paid administrative leave on Sunday.
The San Francisco Chronicle reports that the Alameda County deputies, who were not identified, were placed on leave two days after the release of the video, which launched an internal investigation.
The video released on YouTube by the San Francisco public defender’s office shows two deputies chasing a man on foot. As the man slows, one deputy tackles him and punches him twice. The second deputy arrives and starts hitting the man with his baton. Soon, both deputies hit him with their batons as he screamed and alternated from laying on the ground and getting on his knees.
Public Defender Jeff Adachi said the video shows excessive force and called for a federal probe of the incident.
“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,” he said Friday. “I don’t see any reason why he couldn’t be handcuffed and taken into custody.”
Alameda County Sheriff’s spokesman, Sgt. J.D. Nelson, said the deputies believed the suspect, 29-year-old Stanislav Petrov, was armed and possibly on drugs. A gun was later recovered.
The beating came at the end of a high-speed chase from San Leandro across the bay to San Francisco’s Mission District on Thursday. Authorities accused Petrov of ramming the deputies’ patrol cars, knocking one of the officers down before leading them on the chase.
Petrov was taken to San Francisco General Hospital.
Alameda County Public Defender Brendon Woods, who visited Petrov at the hospital Sunday,told KQED-FM that he suffered several broken bones in both of his hands or arms and multiple lacerations to the back of his head, but was alert and talking.
He said he was horrified by the force depicted in the video.
“I was shocked, outraged and disgusted,” he said. “I counted over 30 baton strikes. I’m not sure what facts would justify that sort of brutal beating.”