Two California Officers Under Criminal Investigation After Videotaped Beating In Mission District

920x920San 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.

23 thoughts on “Two California Officers Under Criminal Investigation After Videotaped Beating In Mission District”

  1. If you listen, he seems to say ok, or he says something to that effect, he slows down puts his hands in an upward position… The cop did not jump on him while stanislav was in full run mode, he jumped on him because he slowed down coming to a stop. And everyone is innocent until proven guilty in a court of law… This is in response to the dimwit who called stanislav a thief.

  2. I always look forward to Darren’s analysis of stories involving police. Thanks, Darren.

  3. Thanks for your post, Darren. It makes sense to me.

    Paul writes, “Sometimes there is some payback involved.” This makes sense, too. Unfortunately, it’s the judiciary that metes out punishment, not the executive branch. These LEOs should be discharged and walk a security guard beat at WalMart, no matter what they think Dude did. There’s no good enough excuse for such punishment.

    “So you see, ladies and gentleman of the jury, it was an adrenaline dump that caused this mishap. Plain and simple. The plaintiff’s lucky these officers hadn’t eaten Twinkies, which caused Harvey Milk’s death, before they caught up to him. The defendants’ ask you to deny damages for these officers’ involuntary physiological reaction to high stress.”

  4. As JT notes in the original post, these officers were Alameda County Sheriff’s Department – Alameda County is across the Bay from San Francisco (Mission District is an SF neighborhood). The Deputies had to chase the guy across the Bay and it’s surprising that they weren’t being closely assisted by both the California Highway Patrol (jurisdiction on the Bay Bridge or other freeways the suspect sped across) and the San Francisco PD, which would have jurisdiction out to the middle of SF Bay.

  5. I don’t see this going well for the two officers involved. I will agree with our host that the initial tackle and takedown will be held to be a justified use of force, but with each smack with the nightsticks that disappears quickly. I can only see this being justified if a suspect was trying to reach for a weapon and was struck until he stopped. I don’t know if this was the case or not but I feel it is going to be difficult to prove furtive movements a time goes on. I don’t know what was being yelled by these three actors, the news anchor kept talking which took away much important details

    I forget what the name for this concept is but there is a psychological event that can happen with regard to extended and violent pursuits where upon catching the suspect it can happen that excessive force is used unless restraint is exercised by the officers. It stems from adrenaline, tunnel vision, anger and fear. It is not just limited to the police but it can happen in other contexts. In fact, unless a third party such as another officer not directly connected to the chase intervenes the event can get into a feedback loop that perpetuates the violence. It can also be the case where one of the participating officers can arrest this process and it will de-escalate the situation. It often only takes one but when it doesn’t incidents like this happen.

    From a purely practical sense, and this sounds cold hearted but it is an undeniable fact, if you want to take someone into custody quickly, beating them continually with clubs almost always doesn’t work. It simply makes things worse as far as cuffing someone up. (not to mention the harm it does) Generally the best thing to do is get the suspect onto his stomach, pin him down, cuff him, immobilize his legs so he doesn’t try to kick, search him for weapons, and go from there. It’s not always that easy and sometimes it takes more than two guys to affect this arrest but it is usually the preferred outcome.

  6. Tom – that’s fine. They do the same for criminal cases. As long as they do release the information, I’m content.

  7. randyjet:

    I have this dread of succumbing to Internet Mob Justice, because I’ve been burned before. Information released by the media has turned out to be completely wrong in some cases. So now I’m ultra cautious and need them to release all information to prove their case.

    It’s not that I think cops can do no wrong. I just want all the information possible. Of course any excessive force needs to be dealt with.

  8. Tom – thanks for the update. Did the police ever release their explanation?

    IF what the family alleges is true, then I suspect that an accidental discharge (from being pulled back while he was shooting) made the police erroneously believe they were being fired upon.

    What I’ve always wondered is why was he pulled back in the first place? That is so dangerous! But was someone in his line of fire that he didn’t see? Or were houses in the background?

    I hope they release all information. What a tragedy. And his poor wife.

    1. Karen S.- I don’t think the Sheriff’s Dept., The ISP, or the FBI will comment until their investigations are completed.

  9. I did not see him try and surrender. All he did was slow down and the cop tackled him to the ground. He was likely out of breath rather than giving up. His hands were not up in surrender and once he was on the ground, I saw him still not putting his hands beside or behind him. The cops are guilty of continuing to hit the crook and not giving him a chance to obey any commands, but given the violent nature of this crook and what he did, I have some doubts. When I first read about this,I thought the cops were in the wrong since I thought the guy was standing still and trying to give up. Now I am not sure I could convict those cops. Just at what point in time does the fight end for the cops?

    I hope that after he gets out of prison, he is deported back to the Ukraine where he belongs, and where the cops will really show him what police brutality is all about. They won’t give him a dime in compensation there, but he may be able to start his own criminal network if he gets a big judgement from this incident.

  10. Karen S.- just to follow up on the Idaho incident (Jack Yantis) we had discussed.
    You may have seen the news that the FBI will be conducting its own investigation…I think that’s a positive development

  11. I personally had three sources for the info below: one black co-worker who showed me substantial scars he received from the beating, and two SFPD ex-officers w/first hand experience, one a close friend, the other a long time co-worker.

    Deep in the bowels of the basement of SF’s so-called “Hall Of Justice” was a cold, hard, small room with one steel door, six boundaries all solid concrete, and a drain in the center of the floor. Prisoners who needed a “tune up” were tossed into the room with three officers on each side of the room, each wielding a rubber hose, who administered the required personality “tune up.”

  12. They need to investigate this thoroughly. I’m glad that there is at least some video. I wonder if the cops were wearing active body cams.

    The police have responsibility for their arrestees.

  13. Doglover is correct. The cop humans need to be prosecuted and jailed. The Chief of Police needs to lose his job. The town needs to reform. This is why God made rifles.

  14. People engaging in these types of behaviors are mentally ill, both the police and the victim. Violence is, by definition, counter-productive.

  15. I worked with a retired sheriff’s deputy who told me that a lot of the problem was that your adrenaline is so high at the end of a high speed chase it needs release. The suspect is the object of release.

  16. Petrov was severely beaten and will have disabling injuries for the rest of his life. Of course he deserves to recover damages from the police and from the City as well. Criminal charges should follow, and in any proper world, these cops should never walk the beat again. There is no excuse for the excessive use of force on anyone, white, black, or pink with purple polka dots.

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