Recorded on body cam video brutally beating an unarmed black teenager during an arrest, two former California police officers were recently indicted with felony assault charges. The officers were fired earlier this year after department officials reviewed the body cam footage.
Around 8:30 p.m. on December 30, 2020, Devin Carter, a 17-year-old high school student, was reportedly driving to his father’s house when Stockton police officers began following his car for allegedly speeding. Officers accused Carter of leading them on a pursuit, but Carter claims that he was initially unaware that he had been followed by a patrol car in the dimly lit area.
According to police body cam footage, a patrol car used a PIT maneuver on Carter’s Mercedes to end the pursuit. Carter remained seated in his car with his empty hands in the air above the steering wheel when an officer ordered him to take off his seatbelt. Despite the fact that Carter was complying and not resisting, the officers pulled him out of the vehicle and tackled him to the ground before repeatedly kicking him in the head and back.
According to a federal lawsuit filed in April, Carter suffered a fractured nose from the unprovoked assault. The teenager also claimed that Stockton Police Officers Michael Stiles, Omar Villapudua, Vincent Magana, and Daniel Velarde threatened him with false charges, including homicide and throwing a gun out of the car window.
On March 30, Stockton Police Chief Eric Jones announced that officers Stiles and Villapudua had been terminated after a review of the body camera footage. On Friday, San Joaquin County District Attorney Tori Verber Salazar announced that a grand jury has indicted Stiles and Villapudua with two counts of assault while inflicting great bodily injury.
“Those who violate their oath to protect and serve discredit the good work law enforcement strives to do every day,” said District Attorney Tori Verber Salazar in a recent press release. “This grand jury indictment reminds us all that when police use unlawful force, they undermine community trust. As your District Attorney, I have a responsibility to ensure equal accountability and justice for all. As the daughter of a police officer, I know how important that responsibility is to restore community trust, safety, and honor to the profession.”
“If I get pulled over, will there be retaliation?” Carter asked at press conference while stating that he is still “in fear of my life.” Carter added, “Four out of four should be prosecuted.”