Body camera video published in April exposed numerous police officers' gang mentality, as cops were shown brutally assaulting a 17-year-old kid during a traffic check "like a pack of wolves." Additionally, it demonstrates the lengths to which police will go to enforce a speeding infraction. However, there is a silver lining to this tale, since the two policemen involved in the violence have been charged.
Tori Verber Salazar, the district attorney for San Joaquin County, announced the indictment of former Stockton Police Department officers Michael Stiles and Omar Villapudua on felony charges of assault on a public officer and assault with a weapon likely to inflict severe bodily harm.
“This grand jury indictment serves as a reminder to everyone that when police officers use excessive force, they erode community trust,” she added in a statement. “As the daughter of a police officer, I understand how critical it is to reestablish community trust, safety, and the profession's honour.”
“This is the beginning of what we've been requesting, the prosecution of police officers,” Devin Carter's father, George Carter, said. “This is just the beginning of a new beginning. And Stockton has taken a step toward redress.”
Naturally, the Stockton Police Officers' Association has spoken out against the accusations and supported the officers, claiming that their actions were justifiable since Carter "actively resisted arrest" and "posed a severe physical harm or death danger."
However, this is just not true.
The incident occurred in December of last year, when police accused Devin Carter, a 17-year-old high school football star, of exceeding the speed limit in his car. When police pulled him over, they pounced on him with the ferocity of wolves devouring prey. Throughout, police accused Carter of "resisting," but as the video demonstrates, this was simply not true.
John Burris, a human rights attorney who is representing Carter and his family in a federal lawsuit against the Stockton police department, released the footage.
“This violent police behaved like wolves, and Devin was their nightly meal,” Burris said. “I have not seen a police officer beating this heinous since March 1991, when my old client Rodney King was assaulted by LAPD officers.” You're likely to agree after seeing the video below.
“The cops' behaviour was so heinous that they should face criminal charges,” Burris said. “The most concerning element of this case is that these officers must have thought they were immune from department punishment and could get away with their behaviour despite the fact that their body-worn cameras were activated.”
Carter is heard repeatedly assuring police that he is "not resisting," when he clearly was not. Despite this, the pounding persisted.
Carter was allegedly driving his Mercedes recklessly at speeds above 100 miles per hour when a police car tried to pull him over for speeding. Instead of halting, police say Carter turned off his lights and led cops on a three-minute pursuit.
Carter eventually came to a halt when police struck him, triggering the deployment of his side airbags.
Carter is 17 years old and made a bad choice, but what followed was a much bigger crime than speeding and fleeing the police — and that crime was four grown adults beating the living daylights out of a helpless child.
Carter, who was just "maybe" speeding, stayed in the car with his hands over the steering wheel until an officer pulled him from the vehicle and threw him to the ground without warning, according to the complaint. According to the lawsuit, an officer kneed Devin Carter in the face while he was in the foetal position. “Body camera video reveals that several police started punching, kneeing, and kicking Devin Carter repeatedly in the face, neck, and back as he lay in a foetal position crying in agony.”
Carter was screaming in pain as he lay on the ground, pleading with the four policemen who were pounding him to stop. According to Burris, Carter believed this was the end and that he was about to be murdered by police.
Carter was fortunate that the pounding ceased and that he was ultimately handcuffed and put into juvenile prison for fleeing police.
Michael Stiles and Omar Villapudua were dismissed in March for allegedly employing excessive force; they have now been prosecuted.