California Police Under Investigation After Beating Of Suspect Caught On Videotape

Screen Shot 2015-06-08 at 11.43.07 PMThere is another controversy over the level of force used in an arrest. The latest such controversy comes from Salinas California where police are investigating a new videotape and witness complaints about a beating given to a mentally ill who was being arrested after shoving his mother into a busy street. While 28-year-old Jose Velasco is shown trying to rise at one point, police below are shown beating him with batons and shooting him with Tasers while he is on the ground.

Officers said that they found Velasco screaming, running into traffic, jumping on cars, and attacking his mother. Salinas Police Chief Kelly McMillin insisted that Velasco was “a violent man assaulting his own mother” but admitted that the videotape raised serious concerns about the police response.

The police stated that when officers responded, they “saw Jose Velasco slamming the female’s body into the pavement of the northbound lane of North Main Street while heavy traffic was passing by. As the officers tried to get Velasco off of his mother by pulling him away, Velasco began to violently resist and attacked the officers.” Thet would certainly justify the use of force in my view. There is a danger in viewing such scenes with the benefit of hindsight and distance. Officers often have to act quickly and, when an individual is clearly a danger to himself and others, they often have to use force. The problem here is not necessarily the force initially used but the extent and the length of time involved in the use the use of force. That concern is particularly great with regard to the second officer who arrives and continues to beat Velasco with a baton as other officers are sitting on him or holding him.

The videotape is another example of the value of videotape in the proving of police abuse. We have been following the continuing abuse of citizens who are detained or arrested for filming police in public. Despite consistent rulings upholding the right of citizens to film police in public, such abuses continue as well as efforts to curtail this right.

What do you think?

Source: NBC

92 thoughts on “California Police Under Investigation After Beating Of Suspect Caught On Videotape”

  1. Pretty bad. The police officer standing over the perp-cum-victim winds up before delivering ad nauseam whatever he’s got in his hand, four other officers already having the fellow restrained and under control. This will make for a nice payout from the City of Salinas, hopefully compensating this fellow after his attorneys get their cut. Perhaps he’ll be able to then get the mental healthcare he apparently needs.

    More amazing to me is that we’re now just starting to see more than the tip of the iceberg of unmitigated police brutality with the advent of the smart phone. Here’s to free food, gym privileges, transportation to and from work, and stock options for the Silicon Valley geeks.

  2. When will they perfect the use of nets? It seems that two or three officers and a net would do the job.

  3. What I think is that the more cameras that are recording police interactions the better. For good or bad.

  4. Geez, the cops reported he kept resisting even in the ambulance:

    “At one point early in the fight, Velasco was able to grab hold of an officer’s TASER while it was still in its holster on the officers body and tore it free. Two TASER deployments were attempted on Velasco, neither having any effect on him. Additional officers arrived and Velasco continued fighting. As other officers arrived on scene, Velasco continued to struggle and resist, eventually needing 5 officers and the use of batons to control and place him into handcuffs. Velasco was subsequently transported to Natividad Medical Center for evaluation and treatment for injuries. While in route to the hospital, Velasco battered both a Salinas Police Officer and a Salinas Fire Paramedic by grabbing them through the rails on the gurney and attempting to bite them. Ultimately at the hospital he had to be chemically restrained. Upon release from the hospital, Velasco was booked for several felony sections and parole violation.”

    Parole violation.
    I’m shocked.

  5. I’m not as concerned about this one as I am many of the others. According to the post, “Officers said that they found Velasco screaming, running into traffic, jumping on cars, and attacking his mother.” In fact, he had already tried to kill his mother. The cops, presumably, did not know if he was armed. They were dealing with an extremely dangerous man, resisting arrest, who had already demonstrated he was capable of killing his own mother.

    Granted, it is hard to watch the red haired balding guy continue to wail on Velasco. And it does appear to be excessive if you forget the context. I’m not sure I’d second guess the cop in this situation.

  6. The underlying question is, what level of force is needed by four officers? There were two dozen plus blows administered along with taser shots. The guy was on the ground and visibly not moving, albeit the three then four officers obscured the view during the end. The fourth officer walloped the suspect several times following reaching down to position the head or some part of the suspect’s body. Was that to move the head into line for a good robust wallop or was that to move the head out of the way to avoid damaging the man?

    This incident is not as graphic as others but does illustrate an exceptional use of force, during and after the guy was pinned.

  7. “The three officers seem to have had the suspect immobile and laid out on the ground.”
    Was he
    When did he quit moving his legs?
    When did he quit moving his hands?
    What second in the video?

    “One of them had already beaten the suspect well after he had been subdued.
    again, when, which second do you deem him ‘subdued’?
    And when was ‘well after’ that, given the beating takes place in under one minute?

    This isn’t a hard question.
    Tell me the exact second in the video when he was immobile and subdued.

  8. Seriously. Help me out here.

    The video doesn’t show the violent lunatic behavior seconds before, where he was “screaming, running into traffic, jumping on cars, and attacking his mother ….slamming the female’s body into the pavement“, but does document said crazy violent man actively resisting arrest.

    So, given all that, at what second do the citizens here deem he was fully complying and no longer resisting, because I cannot see him stop resisting until well past 40 seconds, while noting that you cannot see his hands once he’s surrounded by officers.

  9. Pogo

    The three officers seem to have had the suspect immobile and laid out on the ground. One of them had already beaten the suspect well after he had been subdued. It seemed that the fourth officer was simply late to the party and wanted to get in his requisite number of blows. This reminds me of the previous video of the guy that was ganged by several officers in San Bernadino, Ca. The only thing missing there was an officer selling tickets. One ticket for five wallops.

    Sometimes it seems to be pure adrenaline. However, the fourth officer wasn’t even there involved in the ‘take down’. He seems to have other problems.

  10. So, can anyone here tell me at what precise second they should have stopped hitting him?
    Where in the video do you see clear proof he was finally complying?

    Remember, the entire use of force was less than one minute, and for much of the time he is on the ground you can only see his head and legs.
    At what exact second should they have stopped?

  11. Cops still haven’t learned the lesson that their public behavior is often video taped.

    There is public anger, but little governmental response (and thus little change to cop behavior).

    But, the cops need to come back and ask for voter approval to fund their departments; diminishing public support translates into smaller police budgets.

    What does a small town cop do when there are no more policing jobs? Learn courtesy and customer satisfaction while working retail.

  12. I am afraid there will be change but not for the better. I bet once cops have body cameras laws will be passed to criminalize the video taping of police officers “doing their jobs”.

  13. TheDisco – “It’s clear cell phone video has driven significant public anger but no real change in status quo in pursing charges/convictions against police”
    your right, we haven’t seen much change. I would argue we have seen some. I know one cop quite well, he has been wearing a body cam for years prior to being required for his own protection. He gets it. Unfortunately far to many cop still do not get it. I think we are the cusp of a change. At first it is a dribble of bad cops being fired and/or prosecuted for crimes committed. My hope is that in the next year or two we will see a significant rise in the number of police fired and/or prosecuted, then the numbers will drop off as most of the bad apples will have been tossed aside. At least that is my hope.

  14. I wish Turley would do a more op-ed style piece on what we need to do to reform the police in this country to ensure they face justice. It’s clear cell phone video has driven significant public anger but no real change in status quo in pursing charges/convictions against police. It seems naive to think body cam video, in the custody of police and up to their discretion to release in most cases, will not do much either. So beyond steadily increasing public outrage at a system that is clearly failing and driving people to pursue their own forms of vigilante justice, what needs to change in the system to reign this in?

  15. In Baltimore, the cops have learned their lesson, and no longer bother going to neighborhoods where they are not wanted, where their every action is a threat to their employment, or even risks jail time.

    “[Boston] homicides have increased significantly, with 116 people killed so far this year, compared with 81 at this time last year. Nonfatal shootings are up 83 percent this year, according to police statistics. The 43 homicides in May were the most in a month in Baltimore since December 1971, when the city had nearly 300,000 more residents.

    Much of the recent wave of violence has occurred in West Baltimore, where 23 people have been killed this year. It’s also where Gray was arrested, and where emotions remain raw between officers and residents. Police say they are struggling to respond to even routine calls in the area because officers are often surrounded by angry people and cellphone cameras as soon as they step out of their cars.”

    So Baltimore has lost fully one third of its population in 44 years.
    I. Wonder. Why.
    Three guesses what the population will be next year.

    As for this case?
    You’ve somehow decided that a man who was violent -crazy violent- (“screaming, running into traffic, jumping on cars, and attacking his mother ….slamming the female’s body into the pavement“), who resists until the last baton is wielded at 50 seconds into the video, that this is somehow abusive.

    At what precise second do you determine that the man was complying, fully complying, by this video?
    What useless piffle.

  16. Must wait for an investigation before we dare to criticize! Because they may have a really good reason for beating this guy like a dog.

  17. At no time during the beating did ANY of the officers actually try to effect an arrest. It wasn’t arrest time yet, it was still “punishment time”. This was just a gang beatdown justified under color of law

  18. The balding light brown haired officer that came along fourth appears to have had no reason to wail on the suspect. Three officers had subdued the suspect and beat him, perhaps excessively. The fourth officer is visibly beating the suspect for no obvious reason.

    Unfortunately the other officers are in a position to state that the suspect still posed a danger. In the video it is difficult to see exactly what the suspect is doing although he appears to be immobile with three officers holding him down.

    One has to ask what these batons are made of. It appears in this video as in others that with the wind up and force of these officers that a baton of anything other than a soft material would be doing some serious bone breaking damage. What about using a net?

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