By Alex Emslie
Police and prosecutors in San Francisco are investigating an incident in which deputies from Alameda County were captured on surveillance video beating a suspect with batons at the end of a high-speed chase from the East Bay into the Mission District.
The San Francisco Police Department and the district attorney said Monday they’ve launched a joint investigation into the incident, which occurred early last Thursday morning. The beating drew widespread attention after the San Francisco Public Defender’s Office posted the video online late Friday.
“The San Francisco District Attorney and the San Francisco Police Department are investigating the matter,” district attorney’s spokesman Alex Bastian said Monday.
The deputies were put on paid leave Sunday pending an internal investigation by the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office, a spokesman confirmed Monday.
Alameda County Public Defender Brendon Woods tracked down Stanislav Petrov — the man beaten by deputies — at San Francisco General Hospital on Sunday. He said Petrov suffered lacerations to the back of his head as well as severe injuries to both arms.
“His arms appear to be what I would describe as fairly crushed,” Woods said, adding there appeared to be massive swelling and likely broken bones on both of Petrov’s forearms and hands.
Woods is calling for criminal probes by the San Francisco district attorney and the state attorney general’s office. He’s also requesting a civil rights investigation led by federal authorities.
“The conduct is simply just unacceptable,” Woods said Sunday in the hospital’s lobby. “I’m hoping and I’m confident there will be a thorough investigation by the sheriff’s office and hopefully a thorough investigation by the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office into this case. It looks like the deputies involved very likely committed a crime.”
The California Attorney General’s Office is so far not directly involved.
“We are aware of the incident involving Alameda County sheriff’s deputies,” Rachele Huennekens, the press secretary for Attorney General Kamala Harris, wrote in an email. “There are ongoing criminal and administrative investigations on the local level that we will follow carefully as they continue.”
The deputies involved have been provided with attorneys through the Deputy Sheriffs’ Association of Alameda County, according to a department spokesman. They have not yet been publicly identified.
Petrov remains hospitalized at San Francisco General, in the custody of the Alameda County Sheriff’s Department. He faces felony charges for ramming a squad car and injuring a deputy, then leading the high-speed chase to San Francisco. Alameda County Sheriff’s Sgt. Ray Kelly said Petrov is also being held on suspicion of having a loaded firearm in the stolen vehicle he was driving, possession of methamphetamine and multiple hit-and-runs.
The Alameda County Sheriff’s Office says he also faced three outstanding felony warrants before the chase early Thursday.
As of Monday, however, Petrov did not appear to have been formally charged, according to the Alameda County Public Defender’s Office.