Criminal charges have been refiled against two sheriff’s deputies over the 2015 beating of a surrendering suspect. But charges won’t be filed against police who shot a knife-wielding man in a killing that sparked public protests, the San Francisco District Attorney’s office announced Thursday.
The decisions by the office’s Independent Investigations Bureau come as police use-of-force actions nationwide come under scrutiny in the wake of the deadly beating of George Floyd.
“My office has demonstrated an ongoing commitment to police accountability when officers break the law and, at the same time, we also work to quickly exonerate officers who behaved lawfully,” District Attorney Chesa Boudin said in a statement.
Boudin, who has filed charges against police officers in three other cases since taking office last year, called the beating an “an egregious example of police brutality.”
Deputies Luis Santamaria and Paul Wieber were charged with assault by a public officer, battery with serious bodily injury and assault with a deadly weapon stemming from an arrest on Nov. 12, 2015, that followed a high-speed chase of a reportedly stolen Mercedes, prosecutors said.
The chase from Castro Valley ended with a foot chase into a San Francisco alley, where Stanislav Petrov finally slowed down and raised his hands to surrender. Prosecutors said the deputies tackled him and beat him more than 30 times with their batons as he cried for help, leaving him bloodied and with broken bones.
It was later determined that only one of the 11 deputies present turned on their body cameras, leading to a policy within the Sheriff’s Office making it mandatory for use-of-force incidents, the Bay Area News Group reported.
Petrov later settled a lawsuit with Alameda County for $5.5 million.
The case originally was filed last year. But a key prosecution expert became unavailable and prosecutors moved for a dismissal until it could be refiled. The deputies had pleaded not guilty to the charges at that time.
It wasn’t immediately clear who represented them in the refiling of the case.
The district attorney’s office also re-examined the Feb. 26, 2015, San Francisco police shooting of Amilcar Perez-Lopez.
Perez-Lopez, 21, was seen chasing another man with a butcher knife after an argument over a bicycle. He was shot by two plainclothes officers during a confrontation. The officers said they believed that Perez-Lopez was going after the other man and one of the officers.
An attorney for the family said Perez-Lopez, who was drunk and didn’t realize the plainclothes officers were police.
The shooting sparked community protests, and the city later paid $275,000 to settle the family’s civil lawsuit.
The district attorney’s office declined to file charges, saying there wasn’t sufficient evidence that the officers broke the law. In its second review, the office said statutes of limitations meant that the only charge that could be filed was murder, and the evidence didn’t support that charge.
“This conclusion does not in any way suggest that this incident was handled appropriately by officers at the time, nor does it sanction the officer’s conduct,” the statement said.