A Vallejo police officer is being called to task over the beating of a suspect Friday afternoon that happened in view of multiple witnesses outside a gas station in the city's Country Club Crest neighborhood. As KRON 4 reports, the incident happened around 1 p.m. and police were responding to a call from an employee at the gas station who said the suspect was acting erratically. Though the entire incident was not caught on camera, some witnesses accuse the officer of using excessive force, while others say that what happened prior to the beating was that the suspect tried to strike one of the officers.
According to NBC Bay Area, a clerk at the gas station said the man "was threatening people and transforming his fingers into the shape of a gun" before police were called.
The video shows one officer pinning the man to the ground and punching and hitting the suspect with a nightstick or flashlight as he struggles to get him into handcuffs.
The suspect was taken into custody Friday on suspicion of evading police and being under the influence, and the Vallejo Police Department issued this statement following some outcry over the video: "It's important that no one make any assumptions without having all the available facts. Just like anyone else, officers are innocent until proven guilty. Violence is always ugly, but police officers are exposed to violent situations everyday and they are required to overcome that violence, not just match it."
As the Chronicle reports, and as you can hear in the full video below, the officer is yelling at a gathering crowd of onlookers "Shut up! Get back!" Meanwhile the man on the ground was screaming "I am God! I am God!"
After the man seems mostly subdued, a witness can be heard saying "Why you gotta do that? You’re still hitting him!" A second officer then arrives to assist.
A second video from the same witness on Twitter shows the first officer reaching for but not un-holstering his gun and screaming at someone in the crowd "Get the f**k back!"
Plumas County deputy sheriff, who advises other law enforcement agencies on the use of force, tells the Chronicle that this situation was clearly mishandled. "If an an individual is compliant and it appears that this man was and he suddenly gets tackled, he thinks, ‘I’m going to die.' And the officer mistakenly thinks the individual is fighting back."
The initial situation sounds scary, however, with one of the gas station employees telling NBC Bay Area, "I was scared, like, what if [the suspect] really has a gun on him? And what if he pulls out a gun and starts shooting people?"
He added, however, that he was shocked by the police officer's actions. "I would never expect (the officer) to react like that," the clerk said. "I would have never expected him to be that kind of cop."
The Vallejo Police Department is reportedly investigating the arrest. The Chronicle reports that as of Monday, the officer in the video remains on duty.