San Bernadino police are under criticism today after the release of this video from a cellphone appears to show officers beating a suspect with a baton without cause. The man, Darren Johnson, 43, is a barber shop owner who was allegedly held without charge for two days and was never booked in the jail system. He says that he was also denied a telephone call to counsel. The department has been previously sued for keeping suspects “on ice” but holding them without booking or access to counsel.
An officer appears to strike Johnson while another officer holds him. Johnson was on his Harley-Davidson motorcycle when he stopped at a 7-11 convenience store. Police say that he was stopped for running a stop sign and a traffic signal.
They also say that he was in possession of cocaine.
The failure to book or charge Johnson magnify the problems on this video. Even if he assaulted an officer, the level of force appears excessive and the denial of constitutional rights are likely to trigger a civil lawsuit. Given the prior “ice” cases, the department hardly needs additional litigation over these practices.
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