VALLEJO, Calif. — A brutal takedown by police caught on video is drawing criticism from witnesses who said the officer went too far.
The encounter occurred Friday afternoon when police responded to a 911 call claiming a man was acting “crazy” at a gas station in Vallejo, California, CBS San Francisco reports.
Witnesses said the first arriving officer chased the suspect for several minutes until the suspect finally gave up and sat down in the middle of the street.
The officer pushed the man to the ground and tried to place him in handcuffs, but the suspect appeared to struggle, according to witnesses.
“The kid surrendered,” said one witness who declined give his name. “The cop, on the other hand, came up right behind him and he was tired too. But he immediately dove on the kid and started wailing on him.”
In the video, the officer beats the suspect with his fists and his flashlight, as the suspect repeats, “I am God, I am God.” Off-camera, someone in the crowd that had gathered can be heard yelling “police brutality.” The officer later pulls a gun on the crowd, telling them to “get the f— back.”
Police trainer Don Cameron told CBS San Francisco the officer used appropriate force to restrain the man, even if the video is hard to watch.
“Basically that’s what they’re trained to do,” Cameron said. “When we’re down on the ground, we want to get the person in custody as quickly as we can and we use personal weapons.”
The video was viewed over 1 million times within two hours of appearing online.
Former Oakland Police Chief Howard Jordan agreed the initial contact was appropriate, but said he’s troubled that the use of force continued after another officer arrived. Jordan specifically called out the officer pulling his gun on the crowd.
“I understand the officer needed to try to keep the people from getting close to him,” said Jordan.”I don’t necessarily agree that’s the best use of force. I does look bad. It does appear inappropriate.”
Vallejo police said Internal Affairs is reviewing the video to investigate all aspects of the arrest including the officer’s use of profanity.
One officer was injured in the confrontation.
The suspect is in jail facing charges of being under the influence and resisting arrest.