Two sheriff's deputies caught on tape beating a man in the Mission. (Courtesy/ San Francisco Public Defender's Office)

SF beating caught on tape: Deputies involved should face criminal investigation, says Public Defender

The Alameda County Public Defender is calling for prosecutors to consider filing criminal charges against a pair of sheriff’s deputies after a video released last week appeared to show them beating a man in San Francisco.

Public Defender Brendon Woods likened the “disgusting” beating of Stanislav Petrov, 26, to the Rodney King incident in a statement Sunday, saying “those deputies viciously attacked a man who appeared to be surrendering.”

In the statement, Woods urged San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon and California Attorney General Kamala Harris to investigate the incident and potentially file criminal charges. He’s also requested a federal civil rights investigation.

“They beat him with their batons even though he was not resisting,” he said. “This is clearly excessive force.”

The video appears to show a man, identified as Petrov, fleeing down a Mission district alley — where Clinton Park and Stevenson Street intersect — early Thursday when a deputy tackles him to the ground. The deputies then pull out batons and strike the man dozens of times. He’s punched, kicked and struck for about a minute, according to the video’s time stamp.

Sgt. JD Nelson, a spokesperson for the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office, said both deputies involved have been placed on paid-administrative leave in accordance with state law. San Francisco Police Department officers were also on scene, but arrived as the incident ended.

“Everybody that has seen the video is concerned,” Nelson said, referring to the Sheriff’s Office. “But we are also confident that a complete and thorough investigation will be done.”

The deputies’ identities have not been disclosed, though Woods called for the release of their names so that the Public Defender’s Office can review previous cases that involved use of force.

The Sheriff’s Office launched an investigation into incident when the video was forwarded to them, Nelson said. The San Francisco Public Defender’s Office released the video to the public Friday evening.

Petrov has been at San Francisco General Hospital receiving treatment since early Thursday with injuries to his head, arms and hands, authorities said. Woods visited Petrov at the hospital Sunday morning, he said in the statement.

“From his elbow through his hands are swollen,” Woods said of Petrov, who has been under guard at the hospital without legal counsel. “It looks like he has several broken bones in both of his hands or arm areas.”

Petrov’s mother visited him at SFGH for the first time later Sunday, Woods said. It’s unclear when he will be released from the hospital.

Petrov allegedly led deputies on a 38-minute long pursuit from unincorporated San Leandro, through Oakland, over the Bay Bridge and into San Francisco before the incident, Nelson said.

The chase began when Petrov allegedly rammed a stolen car into two patrol cars in the parking lot of a Travelers Inn, knocking a deputy to the ground, Nelson said. One of the patrol cars was disabled as a result.

The pursuit ended when Petrov allegedly drove the stolen car into a parked vehicle on Stevenson Street. Nelson said deputies later found a gun in the stolen car.

Formal charges have not been filed against Petrov in connection with the vehicle pursuit, Nelson said, but he could face charges including evading police and assault on an officer. The Alameda County District Attorney’s Office did not respond by press time.

Woods said his office expects to represent Petrov if charges are filed. He’s also calling for the release of any car or body camera footage that captured the incident and a review of the Sheriff’s Office policies on body cameras and use-of-force training.

“When we see something like this we have to question whether there are other incidents that were not caught on video,” he said in the statement. “Is this a one-time incident? What other cases are these officers involved with?”

This story has been altered from its original form to clarify that the Alameda County Public Defender said the two deputies should face a criminal investigation.

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