VALLEJO, Calif. (KTVU) - The Vallejo police officer who drew his weapon last week on man in a viral video is the same officer seen pulling his gun out in a busy Walnut Creek shopping plaza this summer exclusive 2 Investigates video shows.
The video, obtained by KTVU, shows Officer David McLaughlin has his gun drawn on Aug. 11 while he was off-duty in front of Rocco’s Ristorante Pizzeria at the Encina Grande Shopping Complex. The gun was pointed at Santiago Hutchins of Concord moments after Hutchins arrived at the restaurant to celebrate his 14-year-old son’s birthday.
Hutchins and Walnut Creek police confirm the incident resulted from nothing substantive. Both described it as an escalation with both men posturing, what are you looking at?”
Hutchins’ wife, pregnant with the couple's child, was sitting inside with the rest of his family. Hutchins said he passed by McLaughlin near the doorway as the off-duty officer appeared to be leaving.
“We made eye contact," Hutchins said. "He asked me what I was looking at and I asked him what he wanted. We got into a verbal altercation. At that point, he pulled out his gun." Hutchins is now being represented by attorney Sanjay Schmidt.
At the time, McLaughlin was dressed in shorts and a white T-shirt. Hutchins and several witnesses told 2 Investigates they had no idea he was a police officer. It was surprising that a man in the plaza would pull out a gun over a verbal confrontation, some said.
“I think he shouldn’t have had his gun out so quickly,” said one witness who works nearby.
Walnut Creek police responded to the scene and took down Hutchins with the help of an off-duty deputy who happened to be in the area. Video shows McLaughlin join in and throw punches and elbows repeatedly.
"He kept grabbing my head and slamming it into the concrete," said Hutchins.
The blows left Hutchins' face bloodied and in need of stitches. A pool of blood was left in the parking lot. Hutchins was arrested, but later all charges were dropped.
2 Investigates learned that a Vallejo police department Internal Affairs investigation was opened into Mclaughlin as a result of this incident. In previous e-mails, Vallejo Police Chief Andrew Bidou said, preliminarily, he was told that Hutchins was aggressive and initiated contact with the officer.
When asked if it were appropriate for McLaughlin to draw his gun over the argument described, Bidou said he was informed that Hutchins followed McLaughlin yelling profanities.
2 Investigates spent three days at the shopping complex and found no surveillance footage, video or witness statements to corroborate Vallejo police's claims that Hutchins initiated contact.
After numerous requests for the results of the Internal Affairs investigation, Vallejo police stopped responding to 2 Investigates. The police department also declined this news organization's public records request asking for more details.
McLaughlin is the same police officer seen in a viral video clip recorded Jan. 22 of a traffic stop in Vallejo. Adrian Burrell, a Marine veteran, said he was assaulted by McLaughlin and suffered a concussion just for filming the officer from his front porch. Some of the encounter was captured on video, and Burrell, 28, posted the encounter to Facebook and provided it to Bay City News. He has retained civil rights attorney John Burris, who called the case "egregious" and said the officer's use of force was "unnecessary and unreasonable."
Burrell said he was in the U.S. Marine Corps for four years before he was honorably discharged in 2012. He now works as a filmmaker.
According to Bay City News, McLaughlin has been a Vallejo police officer since 2014 and was previously in the Oakland Police Department. His twin brother, Ryan McLaughlin, is also a Vallejo police officer. Both brothers have previously been sued for alleged civil rights violations
In 2014, David McLaughlin was named in a suit alleging that he and another officer pulled over Frederick Cooley without cause, held him at gunpoint and searched his car.
The complaint alleges they falsified a police report saying that Cooley was in possession of a controlled substance, but the Solano County District Attorney's Office later abandoned those charges. The civil case was dismissed after Cooley passed away.
Officer David McLaughlin has also been involved in two shootings since joining Vallejo police. He and another officer shot a suspect who was allegedly driving at them before crashing into a parked car on Aug. 31, 2016. No one was injured.
On Aug. 2, 2017, Komoda and David McLaughlin were two of five officers who shot and killed Jeffrey Barboa after a pursuit into Richmond.
In regards to the Vallejo case, police said the chief will determine next steps after seeing the results of the investigation. A police official talked to reporters on Friday urging the public not to rush to judgment.
McLaughlin is still working and still on patrol, he said.
“How much proof does it take? What do you want? Do you want a couple of dead bodies?” Burrell asked.
Candice Nguyen is an investigative reporter with KTVU Fox 2. Send investigation tips and stories to her at firstname.lastname@example.org.