San Francisco prosecutors have filed new charges against two former Alameda County sheriff’s deputies who beat a man with batons in a case that District Attorney Chesa Boudin calls an “egregious example of police brutality.”
Ex-deputies Luis Santamaria and Paul Wieber made national news in November 2015 when video emerged of them chasing a suspect into a dark alley in the Mission District and repeatedly striking him with batons.
Santamaria and Wieber initially faced assault and battery charges in the aftermath of the incident, but the District Attorney’s Office dismissed the case last March when an expert witness became ill and a judge denied its request to delay the trial.
Boudin said his office has since “remained committed to prosecuting the case.”
“We continue to pursue accountability for these deputies for the unjustified and unconscionable beating of an unarmed man,” Boudin said in a statement.
This is the fourth case the District Attorney’s Office has brought against a police officer under Boudin, who campaigned on a pledge to hold police accountable. Boudin has previously secured charges against current or former San Francisco police officers over two police shootings and a beating captured on body camera video.
Santamaria and Wieber are scheduled to be arraigned Thursday afternoon on felony charges including assault by a peace officer, battery with serious bodily injury and assault with a deadly weapon.
While their attorneys did not immediately respond to requests for comment, both former deputies previously pleaded not guilty to the earlier set of charges in May 2016. An attorney for Santamaria, Michael Rains, has argued that videos of police using force can look awful but be “perfectly lawful.”
The beating unfolded after the deputies chased the suspect, then 29-year-old Stanislav Petrov, across the Bay Bridge. Petrov was allegedly driving a stolen vehicle that he had used to ram sheriff’s vehicles in the East Bay.
The incident was captured on home security footage that was later obtained and released by the late Public Defender Jeff Adachi. It resulted in Alameda County agreeing to pay $5.5 million in April 2017 to settle a federal lawsuit filed by Petrov.
Boudin is expected to announce the new set of charges Thursday alongside his decisions not to prosecute the officers involved in two other cases: the police shootings of Amilcar Perez-Lopez in February 2015 and of Antonio Estrada in November 2020.
Former District Attorney George Gascon had previously declined to charge officers Eric Reboli and Craig Tiffe in the fatal Mission District shooting of Perez-Lopez, but Boudin had agreed to take a second look at the controversial case that sparked protests.
Prosecutors say the statute of limitations had expired on all possible charges except murder — a charge the evidence did not support. Perez-Lopez was allegedly armed with a knife at the time of the shooting.
Lateef Gray, who heads up Boudin’s unit investigating police shootings, said he hopes Lopez-Perez’s family can “take comfort in knowing that we conducted a careful, second review of the case to ensure that we are making the only decision supported by the law.”
“We continue to express our sympathy and condolences to them,” Gray said in a statement.
In the case of Estrada, police shot him near Fifth and Market streets after prosecutors say he charged at an officer with a knife and frying pan in his hand. He was shot again and stunned with a sheriff’s Taser after refusing to drop the knife.
Boudin has declined to charge officers Joseph Toomey and Ryan Thomson in the Estrada case.
The District Attorney’s Office does not determine whether officers violated police policy.