By Alex Emslie
A man beaten by two Alameda County sheriff’s deputies in a San Francisco alley was scheduled for surgery Wednesday to repair extensive — and perhaps permanently disabling — injuries to his arms and hands.
The operation at San Francisco General would be taking place amid indications that federal law enforcement authorities may join the investigation into the incident.
Two deputies, still unidentified, were captured on motion-activated security camera video around 2 a.m. last Thursday chasing Stanislav Petrov down a Mission District side street — the end of a high-speed chase that originated in San Leandro.
The Alameda County Sheriff’s Office says the deputies chased Petrov, who was allegedly driving a car that had been reported stolen, across the Bay Bridge at speeds up to 100 mph.
One deputy is shown tackling Petrov after he rammed a parked car and ran from his vehicle. The deputy and his partner are then seen beating Petrov on the head, arms, legs and torso with batons. The beating went on for an indeterminate amount of time — the video skips approximately every 10 seconds — and continued even after other police officers arrived on the scene.
Petrov is heard crying out in pain at several points in the recording.
Petrov’s mother, Olga Petrova, said her son would undergo surgery to install “pins and plates and metal parts, which he’s going to have in his arms for the rest of his life.”
She said doctors told her Petrov, 29, is likely to lose substantial use of both his hands.
“Some of his fingers could have some partial movement — at least a pointing finger — and other fingers will be not able to do anything,” she said. “The joints were absolutely destroyed.”
Alameda County Public Defender Brendon Woods, who also visited Petrov in the hospital Tuesday, confirmed he was scheduled for surgery. Woods said earlier that Petrov’s arms were “crushed” in the beating. His head was also injured, sustaining multiple cuts and severe swelling, according to Woods and Petrova. His mother said he seems to have difficulty hearing and comprehending her.
Woods has called for multiple investigations, including a federal civil rights probe, into what he described as an “insane” use of force on what appears to be a surrendering suspect.
San Francisco police and prosecutors have launched investigations into the incident, and this week federal law enforcement authorities indicated they, too, may look into the case.
“We are aware of these events and are in close coordination with both the FBI and the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office regarding an investigation into the matter,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Abraham Simmons said. The FBI said it’s in contact with the U.S. Attorney’s Office about the case, but would not confirm that it’s investigating.
San Francisco Public Defender Jeff Adachi, whose office published the beating video, said he agreed with Woods that federal law enforcement should get involved.
“I do ultimately think this is an investigation that should go to the U.S. attorney,” Adachi said. “The silence is sort of deafening from law enforcement. You haven’t heard any official word from them. This kind of thing can easily be swept under the rug.”
A spokesman for the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office said a planned release of the deputies’ identities was blocked by attorneys representing them, who cited state law protecting police officer personnel information and threats made against the officers on social media.
“I think it’s going to be going to court,” Alameda County Sheriff’s Sgt. Ray Kelly said. Neither the law firm representing the deputies nor the Deputy Sheriffs’ Association of Alameda County — their labor union — has responded to multiple inquiries from KQED.
Adachi said San Francisco police officers who arrived as the deputies were beating Petrov may also be culpable.
“The SFPD was there,” he said. “What was their involvement? What do they know? Who else was involved in this escapade?”
SFPD spokesman Officer Albie Esparza says the department’s officers had no involvement with Petrov’s arrest, and filed only a vehicle crash report related to the incident.
Petrov remains in custody of the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office at S.F. General under suspicion of several felonies. He allegedly rammed two squad cars, according to the sheriff’s office, before fleeing into Oakland and then San Francisco. Methamphetamine and a handgun were discovered in the vehicle, the sheriff’s office says.
Petrov has yet to be formally charged in the case.