Alameda Co. settles with police beating victim for $5.5M

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OAKLAND (BCN) -- Alameda County has agreed to pay $5.5 million to an accused criminal to settle a federal civil rights lawsuit that he filed after he was beaten by Alameda County sheriff's deputies in San Francisco in November 2015, his attorney and a sheriff's spokesman said Friday.

Stanislav Petrov's attorney, Michael Haddad, said in a statement, "We said we were going to hold Alameda County and the involved deputies accountable and we did."

Haddad said, "This result should serve as a deterrent to law enforcement officers who would abuse their authority and beat a man who was trying to surrender, as these deputies did."

Haddad said Alameda County will pay $1 million of the settlement and the rest will be paid by the county's insurance policy. He said the money will be placed in a trust for Petrov and will be paid over his lifetime.

Sheriff's spokesman Sgt. Ray Kelly said, "The sticker price of the settlement is high but if you don't do policy right 100 percent of the time you have to pay for it."

Kelly said, "There are a lot of lessons we have learned and things we've changed so we can be a better department."

The deputies were caught on camera beating Petrov, who's now 30, after a high-speed chase that began in the early morning hours of Nov. 12, 2015, in unincorporated San Leandro, where Petrov had allegedly used a stolen car to ram two marked sheriff's patrol cars, causing minor injuries to one deputy, before fleeing in a stolen car.

The pursuit ended at Stevenson and 14th streets in San Francisco's Mission District, where Petrov ran out of gas and crashed the car. The alleged beating occurred a short distance away on Clinton Park.

Two of the deputies that were named in the suit are Deputy Luis Santamaria, a 14-year veteran of the department, and Deputy Paul Wieber, a three-year veteran, who were charged by the San Francisco District Attorney's Office in May 2016 with assault under color of authority, battery with serious bodily injury and assault with a deadly weapon.

Prosecutors allege Santamaria and Wieber struck Petrov at least 30 times over the course of 40 seconds in the head and hands with their batons. Petrov suffered injuries including a concussion, broken bones in both hands, a mild traumatic brain injury and deep cuts to his head.

Santamaria and Wieber are free on bail but are still awaiting trial, according to Haddad.

The suit also named deputies Shawn Osborne, Malizia Miller, Shelton Griffith and Sgt. Taylor, whose first name was not disclosed.

Osborne as been fired from the sheriff's office, Kelly said.

Petrov's suit alleged that Osborne stole a valuable gold chain and money from Petrov after he was beaten and gave the chain to witnesses to buy their silence.

Haddad said the sheriff's office recommended that Petrov be charged with 12 separate crimes for allegedly stealing the car and ramming the patrol cars, but the Alameda County District Attorney's Office declined to charge him with any crime.

However, Petrov is still in custody because he faces gun and drug charges in a federal case that followed a March 8, 2016, search of his apartment by the FBI.

The assault against Petrov came to light after the San Francisco Public Defender's Office obtained surveillance camera video footage. San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon said investigators also made use of a second video taken from a body-worn camera that one of the deputies appears to have activated accidentally.

Petrov's suit said he raised his hands in surrender when Santamaria and Wieber caught up to him in San Francisco but Wieber tackled him to the cement and repeatedly punched him in his head and neck areas.

The suit said Petrov wasn't armed, never resisted after he had surrendered and never posed an immediate threat to anyone, but the deputies "brutally beat him without legal cause or purpose."

In addition, the suit alleges that while Petrov lay in the alley with multiple fractures on both hands, suffering from a concussion and bleeding from multiple head lacerations, deputies stood around and exchanged "high fives" and took trophy photos of him.

Haddad said Petrov's hands will be disabled for the rest of his life, he still can't bend some of his fingers and he'll never be able to work with his hands.

Kelly said that after the beating incident the sheriff's office increased its training about the use of force, examined its hiring practices and revised its body camera procedures to make it mandatory that deputies always turn them on when they're interacting with the public.