SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — Moments after two Alameda County sheriff deputies pummeled a man with their batons in San Francisco’s Mission District last fall, another deputy allegedly took the man’s gold necklace and gave it to a homeless couple in exchange for their silence. And a deputy is also accused of taking a “trophy photo” of the injured man.
Deputy Shawn Osbourne, who has more than 15 years on the force and is a decorated training officer for the sheriff’s DUI unit, is now on leave for the alleged theft and bribery.READ MORE: Cal Fire Units Contain Brush Fire in Santa Rosa
Video surveillance footage captured the entire beating and was released to the public.
In a news conference Tuesday morning, the attorney for the man who was beaten announced a civil claim against the Alameda County Sheriffs Department and the deputies involved.
A picture of his client Stanislav Petrov, 29, bloodied and bandaged after the beating, was prominently displayed.
Petrov’s Attorney Michael Haddad said, “It was wrong to flee the scene, but what was more wrong was deputies violating their duty and inflicting deadly force when there was absolutely no justification for any force when a person has surrendered.”
For the first time, Alameda County Sheriff Greg Ahern spoke about the beating and alleged bribery involving his deputies.
“Our policies don’t include excessive beating, our policies don’t include taking of the jewelry, they don’t include bribing witnesses,” Ahern said.
Petrov’s gold necklace and medallion were photographed as evidence, but never booked into evidence.
The complaint alleges a deputy stole Petrov’s gold necklace and gave it to a homeless couple as hush money.
The complaint also alleges that a deputy took a “trophy” photo of Petrov. When the video surveillance footage is slowed down, it appears an officer did take a photo of Petrov using a cellphone.
J.D. Nelson, spokesman for the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office, said, “It’s very likely that that photo was taken by one person and the gold chain was removed by another.”
Petrov’s attorneys filed the complaint against the county Tuesday seeking monetary damages for what they called “the worst law
enforcement beating we’ve seen on video since Rodney King.”
Attorneys Haddad and Julia Sherwin filed the complaint on behalf of Petrov who allegedly led sheriff’s deputies on a high-speed chase from unincorporated San Leandro to San Francisco on Nov. 12.
The deputies caught up to him after he crashed and fled into an alley in the Mission District.
The attorneys allege the department engaged in a “vast cover up” that was exposed only because surveillance video of the incident was obtained by the San Francisco Public Defender’s Office and released publicly the following day.
They argued that Petrov was trying to surrender when the deputies tackled him to the ground, hitting him more than 40 times with their batons with many of the blows falling on his head.
In deputies Luis Santamaria and Paul Wieber’s written reports released last week, they said they feared Petrov was about to ambush them.
Regarding those reports, Haddad said, “They clearly appear to be trying to explain the unexplainable and defend the indefensible.”
Ahern confirmed Tuesday that those reports, written four days after the incident, were written after the video became public and sheriff’s investigators found the deputies’ initial reports did not account for the severity of Petrov’s injuries.
The deputies had been on scheduled days off in the days between the two reports were written. They were called into the office and, with the
help of counsel, revised their reports and then were placed on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of criminal and internal affairs investigations.
“Those deputies are responsible for every word in that report,” Ahern said, and if they’re not being truthful, they “will be terminated.”
The third deputy, Osbourne, was placed on administrative leave after allegations surfaced that after the beating, he stole a gold chain from Petrov and gave it to two homeless people who had witnessed the incident.
“I hope you enjoyed the show,” Petrov’s attorneys said he told the two witnesses, and later handed them the necklace and said “don’t spend it all in one place.” They pawned the necklace and it has not been recovered, according to Haddad.READ MORE: San Francisco Supervisor Aaron Peskin To Remain In Office During Alcohol Rehabilitation
Ahern said that after learning of theft and bribery allegations, he notified San Francisco police they should be looking into those aspects of
San Francisco police spokesman Sgt. Michael Andraychak declined to comment on any specific allegations saying, “any allegations of criminal conduct would be investigated.”
Haddad and Sherwin also accused another sheriff’s deputy of taking a “trophy photo,” but while at least one deputy is clearly visible taking a
photo in the video, Ahern called it “evidentiary.”
But the attorneys said it was the second case in their experience where sheriff’s deputies have taken a “trophy photo.” The other case was
Martin Harrison, an inmate at Santa Rita Jail who died in custody in 2010. Haddad and Sherwin represented Harrison’s children in a civil suit that the county settled for $8.3 million.
Petrov suffered severe injuries in the beating, including several head injuries and permanent damage to his hand and fingers, his attorneys
said. For several minutes after the beating stops he can be heard screaming in pain in the video before paramedics arrive.
The chase began at about 1:30 a.m. when deputies who were patrolling a hotel parking lot in the 17200 block of Foothill Boulevard near
San Leandro spotted a stolen 2015 Mercedes-Benz C300 sedan. Petrov’s attorneys said the car was reported stolen because its lease had expired.
When they approached the vehicle, the suspect inside, later identified as Petrov, started the car, ignored orders to stop and then allegedly rammed two patrol cars, injuring one deputy and disabling his vehicle, sheriff’s Sgt. Ray Kelly said after the video became public.
Petrov then led deputies on a chase on Interstate Highway 580 into Oakland and then west toward San Francisco, crossing the Bay Bridge at speeds of more than 100 mph, Kelly said.
Petrov exited the freeway in San Francisco, struck a parked car on a city street and fled on foot, at which point deputies caught him and
knocked him to the ground and the beating began.
Kelly said deputies who searched the Mercedes-Benz that Petrov had been driving found a loaded gun and drugs for sale.
Ahern said Tuesday that the sheriff’s office “was hurt by a lot of what went on that evening,” and that his deputies have been disturbed by
watching the video.
In response, the sheriff’s office is conducting an extensive review of its use of force policies, Ahern said.
So far they have compiled lengthy reports identifying best practices from a nationwide review of police policies and all deputies in the
department have received new training on use of force. But Ahern reiterated that the allegations against the deputies are not allowed in the department’s policy.
One change that Ahern made immediately is that all deputies are required to turn on their body cameras. While the department’s body camera policy has so far allowed deputies discretion over when to turn on their cameras, those days are over, Ahern said.
No deputies involved in the incident that night initially said they had activated their body cameras, but some footage turned up on one of
the deputies’ body camera after he turned it in to investigators, Ahern said.
That footage was turned over to the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office.
Meanwhile, the sheriff’s office is looking for a new body camera provider, one with more storage space that might include features like
turning on or uploading video automatically. Once the sheriff’s office decides what cameras to use, it will roll out a comprehensive new body camera policy.
Deputies “will activate and wear body worn cameras or they will be terminated,” Ahern warned, except in cases involving certain exceptional privacy concerns, such as when interacting with juveniles or when dealing with sexual assault victims.
The sheriff’s office’s own investigation into the beating has been stalled as they await the conclusion of the criminal investigation in San
Francisco. For that reason, internal affairs investigators have interviewed neither the deputies involved in the beating nor Petrov.
But Ahern said the department will conduct a thorough investigation, saying that a number of deputies at the scene will be interviewed, and others could be facing discipline for not stopping the deputies’ conduct or if they made statements that covered up misconduct.
Deputies are trained to stop unlawful conduct, and there were three other deputies who could face discipline as they witnessed the beating
but did nothing. Three other deputies were in the alley at the time.
“I guarantee you we will fully investigate this from start to finish,” Ahern said.
The district attorney’s office has not filed any criminal charges in the case. Asked to comment, district attorney’s spokesman Alex Bastian
said, “As with every case that comes into this office, we must be sure that a thorough investigation has been conducted so that justice is done.”
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