San Francisco police and prosecutors have opened a criminal investigation following the posting of videotape in the Mission District showing two Alameda County sheriff’s deputies beating 29-year-old Stanislav Petrov. Petrov is still recovering from his injuries and the incident is being compared to the Rodney King beating. The video shown below is quite disturbing.
On the video, Petrov is seen running from the officers but then stops and does not appear to offer resistance. Nevertheless, he is tackled and then beaten by the officers.
According to reports, the incident began when officers spotted what they believed to be a stolen 2015 Mercedes-Benz. Petrov was driving. As they approached, Petrov allegedly struck a patrol car and pushed it into a deputy and injuring the officer. He then allegedly hit a second patrol car and then sped off — taking the police on a 38-minute chase at speeds as high as 100 mph for over 40 miles. That is all quite serious, but what proceeded the beating does not justify what was caught on tape by a motion-triggered alley security camera video Thursday morning.
A witness have come forward to say that he also witnessed part of the beating from close above the scene and that Petrov was not resisting and was trying to protect himself from the blows.
It is hard to imagine what would justify the continued beating of Petrov even if a jury agrees that the initial takedown is justified. (As a presumed dangerous felon in flight, the officers would likely be justified in tackling him from their own safety). While the charges are unlikely to be dropped, he may indeed be able to recover damages from the police. In the meantime, these two officers face a real danger of criminal charges themselves. Ironically, they could easily be sentenced (if found guilty) to a term that equals or even exceeds that of Petrov.