OAKLAND (CBS SF) – Attorneys for an accused criminal who was beaten by Alameda County sheriff’s deputies in San Francisco last November filed a federal civil rights lawsuit Monday against the deputies, Sheriff Gregory Ahern and the county.
The suit on behalf of 29-year-old Stanlislav Petrov seeks unspecified compensatory, exemplary and punitive damages as well as an order barring the sheriff’s office from engaging in unconstitutional practices and prohibiting it from engaging in a “code of silence” about deputies who engage in misconduct.
Deputies were caught on camera beating Petrov after a high-speed chase that began in the early morning hours of Nov. 12 in unincorporated San Leandro, where Petrov had allegedly used a stolen car to ram two marked sheriff’s patrol cars, causing minor injuries to one deputy, before fleeing in a stolen car.
The pursuit ended at Stevenson and 14th streets in San Francisco’s Mission District, where Petrov ran out of gas and crashed the car. The alleged beating occurred a short distance away on Clinton Park.
Two of the deputies named in the suit are Deputy Luis Santamaria, a 14-year veteran of the department, and Deputy Paul Wieber, a three-year veteran, who were charged by the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office in May with assault under color of authority, battery with serious bodily injury and assault with a deadly weapon.
Prosecutors allege Santamaria and Wieber struck Petrov at least 30 times over the course of 40 seconds in the head and hands with their batons. Petrov suffered injuries including a concussion, broken bones in both hands, a mild traumatic brain injury and deep cuts to his head.
The suit also names deputies Shawn Osborne, Malizia Miller, Shelton Griffith and Sgt. Taylor, whose first name was not disclosed.
Sheriff’s spokesman Sgt. Ray Kelly said today that Osborne no longer works for the department as the result of an internal affairs investigation into the matter and it’s possible that additional deputies may be disciplined when the investigation is completed.
Petrov’s suit, which was filed by Oakland attorney Michael Haddad, alleges that Osborne stole a valuable gold chain and money from Petrov after he was beaten.
The suit says the sheriff’s office recommended that Petrov be charged with 12 separate crimes for allegedly stealing the car and ramming the patrol cars, but the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office declined to charge him with any crime.
However, Petrov faces gun and drug charges in a federal case that followed a March 8 search of his apartment by the FBI.
The assault against Petrov came to light after the San Francisco Public Defender’s Office obtained surveillance camera video footage. San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon said investigators also made use of a second video taken from a body-worn camera that one of the deputies appears to have activated accidentally.
The suit, which was filed electronically and has been assigned to U.S. District Court Yvonne Gonzalez-Rogers in Oakland, says that Petrov raised his hands in surrender when Santamaria and Wieber caught up to him in San Francisco but Wieber tackled him to the cement and repeatedly punched him in his head and neck areas.
The suit alleges that as Petrov lay prone on the ground with his hands out ready to be handcuffed, Santamaria and Wieber “began to viciously beat him with steel batons on his head, neck, back, hands and elsewhere on his body.”
The suit says Petrov wasn’t armed, never resisted after he had surrendered and never posed an immediate threat to anyone, but the deputies “brutally beat him without legal cause or purpose.”
In addition, the suit alleges that while Petrov lay in the alley with multiple fractures on both hands, suffering from a concussion and bleeding from multiple head lacerations, deputies stood around and exchanged “high fives” and took trophy photos of him.
The suit names Ahern as a defendant because it alleges that his department doesn’t properly train its deputies and tolerates the use of excessive force.
Kelly said he can’t comment on the suit yet because the department hasn’t yet seen it.
After Wieber and Santamaria were charged in May, Ahern said that following the November incident his department increased its training about the use of force and revised its body camera procedures to make it mandatory that deputies turn them on when they’re interacting with the public.
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