Alameda County Officers Charged in Suspect’s Beating

     SAN FRANCISCO (CN) — Two Alameda County Sheriff’s officers face multiple felony charges in connection with a Rodney King-style beating that was captured on surveillance video.
     San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon announced the filing of felony charges — including assault under color of authority — against officers Luis Santamaria and Paul Wieber of the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office on Tuesday.
     “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. “When officers take the law into their own hands, they undermine the moral authority of the entire criminal justice system.”
     The two officers used their service batons to repeatedly beat Stanislav Petrov in an alleyway in downtown San Francisco on Nov. 12, 2015. The beating, caught on videotape, appears to show Petrov stop running and put his hands in the air just before Wieber tackles him and the two officers begin to strike him repeatedly.
     The beating lasts for approximately 40 seconds, over the course of whichPetrov is heard crying out, saying “I’m sorry,” “Help me” and “Oh my God.” He was hit by the officers more than 30 times, resulting in numerous injuries including a concussion, multiple broken bones in both hands, a mild traumatic brain injury and deep lacerations to his head, according to the district attorney.
     Prior to the beating, the two deputies were involved in a high-speed pursuit of Petrov which began in Castro Valley 25 miles away from where it eventually ended in the streets of downtown San Francisco. Petrov was pulled over on suspicion driving a stolen car and he rammed two sheriff’s vehicles at the initial scene in Castro Valley, with one of the officers sustaining minor injuries as a result.
     Petrov fled on Interstate 580, over the Bay Bridge into the streets of downtown San Francisco, where he drove at high rates of speed through red lights and the wrong way on one-way streets. Petrov finally ran out of gas and crashed his vehicle at the corner of Stevenson Street and 14th Street.
     He then abandoned the vehicle and ran away from Santamaria and Wieber, who followed Petrov to Clinton Park. Petrov appeared to surrender in the park, putting his hands up in the air.
     The two officers had been involved in the high-speed chase from the beginning.
     Alameda County Sheriff’s Sgt. Ray Kelly said the adrenaline and emotion involved in participating in a 40-minute chase likely accounted for the events depicted in the video.
     “There is a very human side to police work,” he said. “I would just say that there was a very intense 44 minutes that obviously ends in that video, but there is a lot that happens before that that people don’t see.”
     Kelly said the department was fully cooperating with the Gascon and the DA’s office, saying it respected the conclusions of the office after “very extensive six-month investigation.”
     “It’s sad to see two of our deputies charged with these crimes,” Kelly said. “Obviously, we believe in due process in the criminal justice system and that will take place in this instance.”
     Santamaria and Wieber were each charged with battery, assault with a deadly weapon and assault under color of authority. Santamaria is a 14-year veteran and Wieber has been with the department for three years.
     Bail for the two officers was set at $140,000. Both were due to surrender by the end of Wednesday.
     Emails sent to Santamaria’s attorney Michael Rains and Wieber’s attorney Douglas Rappaport were not returned as of press time.

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