An attorney representing Stanislav Petrov, the man beaten by Alameda County Sheriff’s deputies, has filed a civil suit against Alameda County alleging that the deputies painfully cuffed Petrov’s broken wrists and robbed him.
A homeless couple claims the deputy gave them Petrov’s stolen belongings to bribe them. The couple — Jerome Allen and Haley Harris — told the Chronicle that deputies gave them a gold chain, cigarettes, and other belongings they had lifted from Petrov, and Allen believed them to be “hush goodies.”
Michael Haddad, the attorney representing Petrov, brought a claim on Tuesday against Alameda County alleging that deputies both stole from Petrov and beat him badly when arresting him.
Video of the incident showed officers Luis Santamaria and Paul Wieber beating Petrov with their batons at least 40 times in the Mission District alley.
The incident on Stevenson Street, an alley off 14th Street near Valencia Street, happened in November 2015 after a confrontation with Petrov in Alameda led to a car chase across the Bay Bridge, a crash on Stevenson Street, and a pursuit on foot into the area where the beating occurred.
Alameda County officials are investigating the allegations. One unnamed deputy was put on paid leave as a result of the couple’s claims, and the two deputies involved in the beating — Santamaria and Wieber — were put on paid leave immediately after the incident in November.
J.D. Nelson, a spokesperson for the Alameda County Sheriff’s Department, said he did not know how long an internal investigation might take or how it might be structured.
“It depends on how difficult it is. It’s like anything else…If there’s a lot of tentacles, [it will take longer],” he said.
Deputies wrote in their report of the incident that after they approached Petrov, who was sitting in a stolen car, he rammed several law enforcement cars before driving off. They also said in a statement last week that they feared for their lives during the confrontation.
San Francisco Public Defender Jeff Adachi has been calling for criminal charges against the deputies since he published a video of the incident on his department’s Facebook page. He said George Gascón, the San Francisco District Attorney, should be the one to bring charges against the Alameda deputies, though he has not yet done so. A spokesperson from the District Attorney’s Office declined to comment on the case.
“Anytime you have police or law enforcement, they have the ability to hire the best lawyers, the most expensive lawyers,” Adachi said. “So any DA knows that if you take on a law enforcement agency, you’re gonna be in for a fight.”
Adachi said the standard practice of putting law enforcement officers either behind a desk or on paid leave after incidents like these — rather than putting them on unpaid leave — is just one way in which law enforcement officers are treated with kid gloves after use-of-force incidents.
“The irony is that if it were you or me caught on video beating somebody with a stick 30 times, we would have been in jail weeks ago,” Adachi said. “Because they’re law enforcement, they seem to be able to act with impunity.”
In a civil suit, unlike the criminal suit the District Attorney would bring against the deputies, the standard of proof is slightly lower, Adachi said. But even if a court found the deputies responsible for violating Petrov’s rights, the punishment would be monetary only.
Adachi said this is often the only way to get redress in a law enforcement use-of-force case.
“It does bring a measure of [justice],” Adachi said. “Every year cities and counties and states shell out hundreds of millions of dollars in settlements, police brutality, wrongful death…Very rarely are police prosecuted.”