California suspect beaten by police files claim against city
An assault suspect who was beaten with batons by police in a central California city during a videotaped arrest that was posted online has filed a claim against the city, the local Monterey County Herald newspaper reported on Thursday.
Police in the city of Salinas said 28-year-old Jose Velasco had been assaulting his mother on the street when officers used batons and Tasers to subdue him.
A passing motorist caught the June 5 incident on video and posted it to YouTube. The video, which has logged hundreds of thousands of views, showed five officers pinning him to the ground and repeatedly striking him with batons.
The incident comes amid a national outcry over policing tactics and use of force in the wake of several high profile police killings of unarmed black and Hispanic men over the past year, which sparked waves of protest around the country.
“It is criminal. It was a reckless disregard for the civil rights of Mr. Velasco,” civil rights attorney John Burris, who is representing Velasco, told reporters on Thursday. Burris also said he was requesting a federal investigation into the case.
The images of officers beating Velasco were horrific but captured out of context, Salinas Police Chief Kelly McMillin told a news conference earlier this month.
Velasco had been pushing his mother into traffic and slamming her into the pavement just moments before the beating, police said, adding that Velasco began to violently resist and attack the officers.
Officers used batons to subdue Velasco, who admitted he was high on methamphetamine, the police chief said. Other officers responded to the scene, and Velasco was accused of trying to grab an officer’s Taser and bite a paramedic.
At the hospital, Velasco was “chemically restrained,” police said.
Velasco, who suffered injuries to his legs, was booked on charges of assault with a deadly weapon and assault on an officer, along with other charges.
A spokeswoman for the police chief said earlier this month that an investigation into the use of force was under way. The Monterey County Herald said one of the officers was removed from patrol duty but remained on the department’s payroll.