Deputies in Videotaped Beating of Suspect Charged with Felonies

Two Alameda County sheriff's deputies caught on video beating a suspect senseless in a Mission District alley last fall are being charged with multiple felonies by San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon.

The deputies, 14-year veteran Luis Santamaria, and Paul Wieber, who has three years' experience, were pursuing Stanislav Petrov, a repeat offender who had allegedly rammed a deputy's patrol car and led authorities across the Bay Bridge in a high-speed chase before ditching his car in the Mission and fleeing on foot.

Deputies caught up with him in an alley where he appeared to surrender before he was tackled and beaten repeatedly with batons. Unknown to the deputies, who did not activate their body cameras for the beatdown, the entire encounter was captured on surveillance video.

“When police violate the law, it impacts the work of every woman in man in uniform,” Gascon said at a press conference at the Hall of Justice. 

In the video, which was enhanced thanks to an FBI expert retained by the DA, you can hear Petrov call out for help while he's struck repeatedly in the head and arms. The beating only stops when the deputies' other colleagues arrive.

And there's an additional video: it appears one of the deputies accidentally activated his body-worn camera, which are not required to be activated during every encounter, according to Alameda County policy.

The deputies are charged with assault with a deadly weapon, battery with serious bodily injury, and assault under the color of authority. They are expected to surrender to authorities in San Francisco by the end of Wednesday. Bail has been set at $140,000 each. At least one of the deputies has already retained the services of Michael Rains, the Bay Area's superlawyer for misbehaving cops. 

Petrov, meanwhile, is in federal custody on unrelated charges following an April 1 raid on his home in Visitacion Valley.

Meanwhile, more charges could be filed, Gascon said, including against some of the other deputies involved in the incident. 

According to Petrov's attorney, the deputies used drugs and a gold chain swiped from Petrov's car to bribe some witnesses into silence. The video also contradicts the sworn statements made by deputies in their incident reports. Possible further charges include bribery, witness tampering, theft, and making false police statements, Gascon said. 

And it is almost certain none of the prosecution would have happened without the chance video clip, obtained and released to the public by Public Defender Jeff Adachi. 

“Without the video, I doubt very much” charges would have been filed, he said.

San Francisco police have been issued the first of several body-worn cameras in a pilot program that finally launched earlier this year. There's no timetable as to when all police will be issued cameras.

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