There 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?
92 thoughts on “California Police Under Investigation After Beating Of Suspect Caught On Videotape”
Someone asked what were the batons used in this video made of. The first seen is what is referred to as an Expandable Baton, likely one similar to those made by ASP.
Devices such as this are expanding, meaning it has a standard cylindrical grip which inside contains a series of telescoping metal rods (similar to what you see on a car antenna that pops out in sections) The device is extended by swinging it outward where it locks into its locked position. It is much thinner than the below nightstick. In looking at mine, the outer section is about a centimeter thick. It has a nub at the tip.
The officer who runs in from the left seems to be carrying, though I am less sure, a straight stick baton (formerly known as a nightstick) These are usually composed either of wood or a hard resin material.
From what I see in the video I know from the story this suspect was a violent, combative suspect that already demonstrated a propensity to engage in continuing, threatening behavior as evidenced by the earlier reported aggravated assault against his mother. This fact was known to the officers at the time of contact.
Toward the beginning of the video I can see there are two officers, one having the ASP in hand and the other a Taser. I noted there are two spent Taster dart cartridges on the ground. At least one of the cartridges seems to have at least one of its darts attached to the suspect; as evidenced by being pulled along as the suspect moves. I don’t know if the darts penetrated the suspect’s skin, they missed or were stopped by his clothing. The officer having the Taser in hand seems to be allowing the arrest to take place. Usually the Taser officer will stand and monitor and control the device while others restrain the suspect. The officer can then administer additional shocks if needed and hold the Taser to keep the suspect from taking it. There likely is another Taser on the street in its holster but I am not certain of this fact. If so it might mean it was taken from the officer or fell off during the struggle. The fact that multiple dart cartridges were used is indicative of a violently resisting suspect where the Taser deployments might not have been successful. A downloading of the Tasers’ data recordings will reveal what transpired.
In the video it shows two officers initially attempting to restrain the suspect. It shows the suspect on at least two occasions attempt to rise up and attack the officer from which the officer strikes him with the ASP baton. The officer uses hard hits against the suspect in that case. Later, the same officer can be seen using less forceful strikes while the suspect is being rolled over to be restrained as the other officers began holding him down. The suspect represented a continuing threat and shown a propensity to attack the officers and others in an aggravated manner.
It is my analysis that the officer utilizing the ASP at the beginning of the video is employing a justified level of force given the totality of the circumstances known to the officer at the time of the event. The Taser usage will also more likely be held to be a justified level of force.
My belief is the actions of the officer who ran in from the left, identified by among the commenters as the balding officer, will be the ones that will be subjected to the greater scrutiny in the internal investigation. I have reservations about whether the continued use of the nightstick was necessary. I am not able to see exactly what was transpiring with the suspect due to the distance and the views blocked by other officers and the person wearing the coat in the foreground.
Again, we do not have all the facts here but in my view the actions of the second officer are of concern and we will await the full investigation’s findings.
Inga – according to you, you have worked with the mentally ill before, so you know that some can be violent. And some are so violent that it takes several people to take them down. In a hospital setting you can often sedate them, however, in the middle of the street you do not have that option. Hindsight is always 20/20.
And I suppose you have a first amendment right to post a photo of a dead man implying it was this person.
But you’re right, I defend the right to free speech, even when it’s irresponsible and ignorant. I just don’t agree with it, and am exercising my own rights to call Shenanigans.
“Karen you insulate yourself from some realities quite well, but there are people here that won’t let you get away with the whitewashing.”
Because waiting for an investigation is “whitewashing?” That does not reflect reality.
The extent of Velasco’s injuries are part of the evidence record.
What are you basing the statement that he was beaten almost as bad as Kelly Thomas? His face showed zero of the injuries of Kelly. Kelly’s rib cage was crushed, so CPR killed him. During the ambulance ride he beat a paramedic and another police officer before they could get him to the hospital and sedated by a doctor. And that was AFTER he’d been tasered and beaten by the cops to try to bring him down.
I do not know the extent of the injuries Velasco suffered. But he sounds like he was out of his mind on drugs and very dangerous.
That poor paramedic. That could also have been a nurse or a doctor beaten and bitten. Maybe they just needed to talk to him more.
Karen, criticism is free speech. We DO NOT have to wait for an investigation to be complete to criticize based on what we see in the video. You are conflating critisicm with some sort of mob wanting street justice. Again we have a First Amendment right to criticize cops based on these videos.
DBQ – so true. After we emptied out our jails our crime rate skyrocketed. It is so hard to get anyone to do any time. And the cops just keep catching them.
Karen this guy was beaten nearly or AS bad as Kelly Thomas. Have you not read or heard about the extent of Velasco’s injuries? Karen you insulate yourself from some realities quite well, but there are people here that won’t let you get away with the whitewashing.
No, cops do not have the right to use excessive force. That is why they have Internal Affairs, and an investigation. If they used excessive force they can and will be punished.
But the media and the mob won’t wait for that. They post pictures of a completely different dead man, and say he was beaten like a dog. But then, oh look, he was so high he was trying to bite officers and had to be tranquilized at a hospital. A taser couldn’t keep him down. 5 cops couldn’t keep him down. Oh, and his photo showed no injuries whatsoever, unlike the dead man who was beaten to a pulp.
That was completely irresponsible.
If a man is out of control high with incredible strength, what were they supposed to do? Walk away? They investigate use of force in cases like this. If they consider it justified, I want to know why? What is the protocol? What are the options?
Maybe you should go on a ride along and try to subdue one of these guys all on your own, with no baton, no force, just, I don’t know, talking?
We have a legal system that tries perpetrators of crimes and we have prisons in which they serve out their punishment
That’s a nice fantasy. We have a system where most perps are released before trial. Don’t show up for trial and are caught again and released again. Catch and release. This guy was on parole, which means he did NOT serve his entire sentence and obviously was violating his parole by being high on drugs and trying to murder his mother.
The cops that I know are sick of seeing the same faces over and over and over again. They do their job. Put themselves in danger trying to protect the public and next week…..here is the same guy or gal doing the same things over and over again.
It is like being trapped in a violent and disease ridden version of the movie Groundhog Day.
The cops are sick of it….and frankly, we the public who have to put up with these dirtball scumbags are sick of it.
Why do I remark about skipping an investigation?
Oh, I don’t know, perhaps because my position of waiting for an investigation was mocked and derided, as any casual review of this and recent threads will attest?
Like this one from I. Annie:
“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.”
You can’t have it both ways. You cannot mock and criticize someone for saying we should wait for an investigation, and then say that no one wants to skip an investigation.
The problem is that cops are NOT judge, jury and executioner. They do not have the right to beat people to death or near death based on their crime. They do not have the right to use undue lethal or physical force. We have a legal system that tries perpetrators of crimes and we have prisons in which they serve out their punishment. Cops do not have the right to act like some sort of Judge Dredd.
Here’s an example of false logic:
Someone waits for all the facts to come in before passing final judgement. THEN, if the cops were guilty of wrongdoing, such as excessive force, they demand justice and accountability.
Others hearing this claim those people are ignorant or biased or evasive unless they “just know.”
Oh, and look here. The photo of the actual suspect looks NOTHING LIKE the image of the brutally beaten man that another poster contributed of a completely different person. Well, whoops. But if I hadn’t remarked that it was the wrong man, how many people would have seen that photo and been outraged, applying that to THIS case? And the suspect DID try to bite cops, and had to be tranquilized at the hospital in order to subdue him.
Cops are not physicians. I do not think it is legal for them to administer sedatives. What are they supposed to do, get bitten and contract whatever disease this person may have?
NO ONE is suggesting skipping an investigation Karen. Why do you keep repeating this? It won’t make it true by repetition. NO ONE has suggested that there should be no investigation in this case OR the Texas case You are once again doing your mischaracterization of other people’s comments AGAIN.
My issue with the police handling of the mentally ill stem from a case in CA where the police released a mentally ill young woman from jail in the middle of the night, as is typical. The woman was never seen from again. In that case, an investigation showed that they did not have a protocol in place to properly handle someone vulnerable like that.
But it is irresponsible to post the photo of a dead victim in a completely different case, because it implies that this person suffered the same level of injuries.
How many people who “just know” have ever tried to subdue someone high out of his mind and violent on meth, PCP, bath salts, or whatever? Do you think they could have reasoned with him? How do you subdue someone who has the strength of a gorilla, is impervious to pain, and unable to reason? Because I would really like to hear your plan.
Mine was to start using tranquilizer darts, but even that carries the risk of lawsuit because everyone’s metabolism and weight is different. So I don’t have an answer, yet, but I am . . . wait for it . . . going to wait to hear all the evidence and the investigation’s result.
Maybe they already have a protocol but they didn’t follow it. Maybe they followed it to the letter. That matters to me.
You want a poem??? Okey dokey! Here is you a short poem! (And remember, you can’t find good topical poetry like this over at Pansies For Plato!)
A Short Poem by Squeeky Fromm
Jose you can see
Went on a drug spree.
Beat up his mother,
Then grabbed another.
The cops knocked him down,
Had him there on the ground.
But he tried to resist,
Sooo, they hit him with fists,
And batons. It was tough
But they got him in cuffs.
And into a gurney.
But later we learn he
Tried biting a cop.
To get him to stop,
They sedated the fiend,
Likely used Thorazine.
After all Jose does,
Folks are mad at the fuzz???
And if this includes you. . .
You need Thorazine, too.
NOTE: Here is some additional info:
The boys in blue have a ridiculously difficult job. On a call such as this, the adrenaline is flowing and judgment and reason are diminished and self preservation becomes paramount. It’s gotta be hard to regain reason and stop beating a suspect curled up in the fetal position for protection from the blows of the baton raining down up him. Many of these videotaped apprehensions go from control of the perp to retribution and punitive measures. How many videos have seen with a officer yelling, “stop resisting, stop resisting,” as baton blows keep raining down and the only movement of the perp are protective in nature.
It has been my experience that those who choose to become law enforcement officers have an authoritarian mindset and do not like people opposing them. Don’t even attempt to assert your constitutional rights lest you irritate the cop detaining you. There is no law, only you and him and what the cops says is the truth, for in today’s society, your are guilty until proven innocent. Even the guilty have Constitutional rights…supposedly, least that’s what I was taught in school.
We have to ensure that we have an effective system for identifying and removing “bad apple” police, that is fair.
Skipping an investigation is not fair to anyone. Arguing that we “just know” what happened based on a distant video does not analyze all the facts. There is no harm whatsoever in expressing concern and suspending final judgement until all the facts are in. If the evidence points to wrongdoing, then it will be dealt with.
Officers here in CA are always put on leave during an investigation, which is reasonable.
Oh my gosh, wrong victim. Just how many times have cops beaten the hell out of mentally ill men in Salinas?
“Maybe some of those tranquilizer darts they use on Grizzly Bears?” Heck, that’s what I was thinking. Who wants to grapple with a meth head or someone on bath salts who might bite your face? Tranq him with whatever fast acting sedative they use at mental hospitals.
Oh, wait, then they would have to accurately guesstimate his weight and metabolism, so they would probably be sued anyway.
Darned if they do and darned if they don’t.
Alternate headline: “Madman goes on rampage, kills mother, as well as several others as police look on, unable to stop him after a taser failed to bring him down! Everyone sues!”
The reasonable approach is to express concern, ask them to release all evidence after the full investigation is completed, and then evaluate said evidence to determine if you agree with the result.
Oh, and the photo was of Kelly Thomas, not of this subject.
I also followed the Kelly Thomas beating, and I felt the officers were wrong in that case.
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