A man who was beaten by Alameda County Sheriff’s deputies in a Mission District alley last Thursday following a high-speed car chase from San Leandro may permanently lose the use of his arm.
Stanislav Petrov’s injuries were so severe they required surgery, said Tamara Barak Aparton, a spokesperson for the San Francisco Public Defender’s Office, which has condemned the deputies’ actions.
Doctors have told Petrov’s mother that, even after the surgery, his arm “may be permanently disabled,” Aparton said.
Rebop Rundgren, 23, lives near the alley where the incident happened and watched it unfold. When the deputies relented and put Petrov in handcuffs, Rundgren heard him say, “I can’t feel my fingers.”
The beating has spurred two separate government investigations, and calls for a third.
The Alameda County Sheriff’s Department originally declined to release the deputies’ names, citing threats on Facebook and the department’s anonymous tip line. But by Wednesday, Sheriff Gregory Ahern was ready to reverse course and publish the information “in the name of transparency,” said JD Nelson, the department’s spokesperson.
That was before the deputies’ attorneys filed a cease-and-desist order, keeping the names confidential. The Sacramento-based law firm Mastagni Holstedt, which is representing the deputies, did not immediately return a call for comment.
The deputies have been suspended indefinitely until all investigations can be completed. Their own department is conducting an internal probe, and the San Francisco Police Department and District Attorney’s Office have opened a joint criminal investigation.
Alameda County Public Defender Brendan Woods, who is representing Petrov, has asked state Attorney General Kamala Harris to open an additional inquiry, but her office has thus far chosen not to.
While on suspension, the deputies will continue collecting pay. Each earn annual salaries of at least $90,000, Nelson said. The more senior officer has worked for the department for between five and 10 years.
Nelson said that deputies have to decide how much force to use on a case-by-case basis because no two incidents are ever the same.
“You are supposed to use a reasonable amount of force to take that person down,” he said.
In a video caught on a nearby security camera that night, Petrov first comes into view with the deputies in pursuit. He seems to give up and stop running, after which one deputy tackles him and punches him repeatedly. With Petrov still on the ground, both deputies begin clubbing him with their nightsticks. They continue for almost a full minute — the footage shows them striking him for about half of that duration, because the camera only recorded for ten-second intervals with ten-second breaks between each recording.
After other law enforcement officers arrive on the scene, Petrov is cuffed, and he writhes on the ground until paramedics take him away.
“I think it’s despicable,” Rundgren said.
The Alameda County Sheriff’s Department has said the deputies originally came upon Petrov as he sat in a stolen car, and when they approached him they saw a gun inside. Petrov then crashed his vehicle into the two patrol cars, knocking down one deputy, and sped away. Investigators later recovered a gun, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.
For the Alameda sheriff’s own investigation, staff will talk to anyone else who was involved in the chain of events, Nelson said. If possible, they will try to recover the 10-second gaps in the security camera footage to get a more complete sense of what happened that night.
Witness Rundgren said that, from his vantage, Petrov gave “no retaliation in any form during the gaps. I can attest.”
Petrov, 29, has been diagnosed with various mental disorders, and has suffered several concussions in his life, KQED reported.