Captured on cell phone video aiming his gun at bystanders while repeatedly beating an unarmed man who had already surrendered, the California police officer accused of using excessive force remains on patrol duty. Instead of stopping their fellow officer from beating a man on the ground, backup units immediately began threatening and intimidating witnesses.
Around 1 p.m. on Friday, Vallejo police responded to a 911 call concerning a man acting erratically and threatening a gas station attendant after his credit card declined several times. According to witnesses, the unidentified man attempted to run away after police arrived at the scene.
Recording the incident on a cell phone, a bystander caught footage of a tattooed police officer chasing an unarmed man into the middle of the street. Upon reaching the median, the suspect abruptly sat down and appeared to surrender.
After tackling the suspect, the unnamed officer straddled his body while repeatedly punching him in the face and throwing elbows at his head. Flailing his arms in an attempt to protect his skull, the mentally unstable suspect screamed, “Police ain’t real! You’re not real. I am God!”
As backup units arrived, the officer began striking the suspect with his metal flashlight despite the fact that the unarmed man made no attempt to fight back. With the suspect now restrained by two officers, the tattooed officer continued striking the man with his flashlight.
“Why you still hitting him?” a witness off-camera asked the cop.
“Hey! Fuck off!” the tattooed officer responded. “Go the other way.”
When the bystander refused to leave, the cop suddenly pulled his gun out of his holster and aimed it at him. The officer immediately placed his firearm back in the holster after the witness yelled, “Shoot me!”
With more backup units arriving, the tattooed officer focused his attention back to the suspect and started beating him with the flashlight again. Although the crowd of witnesses continued accusing the officer of brutality and excessive force, none of the other officers listened to their pleas. Instead, the officers pushed the bystanders and threatened them with batons.
“No need to brutally beat this kid,” one of the witnesses told KPIX 5. “The kid surrendered. The cop, on the other hand, came up right behind him and he was tired, too. But he immediately dove on the kid and started wailing on him. C’mon now, that ain’t policing.”
According to witnesses, the tattooed officer had been chasing the unarmed suspect for several minutes before the video started. Although it remains against official policy, many law enforcement officers share an unspoken rule that if they are forced to chase a suspect, then that suspect must receive a beating even after surrendering.
“Just like anyone else officers are innocent until proven guilty,” Vallejo PD Lt. Jeff Bassett wrote in a recent statement. “Violence is always ugly but police officers are exposed to violent situations every day and they are required to overcome that violence not just match it. We will investigate this matter and will take the appropriate action if any policy or law has been broken.”
While Internal Affairs reviews the arrest, the tattooed officer remains on active duty according to the department. The unidentified suspect was arrested under suspicion of being under the influence and for resisting arrest.
“I understand the officer needed to try to keep the people from getting close to him,” former Oakland Police Chief Howard Jordan told KPIX 5 after watching the cell phone video. “I don’t necessarily agree that’s the best use of force. It does look bad. It does appear inappropriate.”