Officers Sued Over 2015 San Francisco Beating

     OAKLAND, Calif. (CN) — A man whose brutal beating was caught on video after he led sheriff’s officers on a high-speed chase sued Alameda County on Monday in Federal Court.
     Stanislav Petrov sued the county, Sheriff Gregory Ahern and six of his officers for the beating he received on Nov. 12, 2015, in San Francisco.
     Officers Paul Wieber and Luis Santamaria, who were charged with felonies, including assault under the color of authority, can be seen on surveillance video beating Petrov repeatedly with their fists and batons.
     The beating lasts for about 40 seconds, during which Petrov cries, “I’m sorry,” “Help me” and, “Oh my God.” The more than 30 blows the officers inflicted gave him a concussion, broken bones in both hands, a traumatic brain injury and deep lacerations to his head.
     “Plaintiff never resisted, never tried to flee after he had surrendered, and never posed any immediate threat to anyone,” the complaint states.
     The beating came after a prolonged high-speed chase, which began in Castro Valley 25 miles away from where it ended in downtown San Francisco.
     After being pulled over on suspicion of driving a stolen car, Petrov rammed two sheriff’s vehicles in Castro Valley, slightly injuring on officer.
     Petrov fled on Interstate 580 over the Bay Bridge into San Francisco, where he sped through red lights and the wrong way on one-way streets. After running out of gas and crashing at Stevenson and 14th streets, he bailed out and ran.
     Santamaria and Wieber followed him to Clinton Park, where Petrov appeared to surrender, raising his hands, before he was struck repeatedly.
     “Plaintiff was not armed with any weapon,” the complaint states. “Plaintiff had completely surrendered, and defendants brutally beat him with batons without legal cause or purpose.”
     Then, Petrov says, some officers participated in a “trophy photo,” having their picture taken alongside his battered body, as hunters with their kill. The 21-page lawsuit claims the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office has a long-running practice of taking “trophy photos,” dating back at least to 2010.
     Petrov also says officers robbed him of money and of a gold chain he wore around his neck.
     “(O)ne or more defendants, including defendant [Shawn] Osborne, gave this gold chain and some of plaintiff’s money to individuals whom defendants noticed watching them at the scene, asking those witnesses something to the effect, ‘Did you like the show?’ These defendants gave plaintiff’s property to witnesses to buy their silence to defendants’ civil rights violations just witnessed,” the complaint states.
     Osborne no longer works for the department.
     Four days after the beating, Wieber and Santamaria destroyed and rewrote their initial crime report, having become aware of the surveillance video, according to the complaint. Petrov claims numerous sheriff’s officers and supervisors conspired to cover up the misconduct.
     “Through their code of silence, theft and destruction of evidence and reports, attempts to influence and silence witnesses, and concerted efforts to cover up violations of plaintiff’s rights, defendants … have obstructed justice and interfered with plaintiff’s constitutional right to petition the government through the courts for redress of civil rights violations,” the complaint states.
     Sheriff’s Sgt. Greg Kelly said the department has not yet received the lawsuit, but is “aware that it is another part of this case that will need to be addressed.”
     “The internal affairs and criminal investigation into the Petrov case remain open and active,” Kelly said. “Thus far, two deputies have been criminally charged and a third deputy no longer works for the agency.”
     Petrov seeks punitive damages for assault and battery, negligence, personal injuries, and civil rights violations.
     He is represented by Michael Haddad in Oakland.

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