VALLEJO, Calif. (KTVU) - The Vallejo police officer seen in a recent viral video detaining a man for recording a traffic stop is on administrative leave, according to information obtained on Monday by 2 Investigates.
Vallejo Police Chief Andrew Bidou said Officer David McLaughlin was placed on leave following a Jan. 22 incident with Adrian Burell, a Marine veteran, who said he was assaulted by the officer and suffered a concussion. McLaughlin was there because he had pulled Burrell's cousin over on a traffic stop. Burrell said he believes McLaughlin mistook his cousin for another person who was speeding on a motorcycle and then became angry when he saw him recording the traffic stop. He doesn’t understand why McLaughlin needed to have his gun drawn.
“I want accountability. I want to sit down. I want a conversation,” Burrell said.
Bidou declined an on-camera interview, but did add via emiail: “I would like to reiterate that the department acted swiftly in initiating an internal affairs investigation [into the Vallejo incident], including sending investigators to proactively contact the involved citizen.”
The chief added: “Community/police relations and community policing has been a focus of the Vallejo police department for several years…We understand that incidents like this have the ability to undermine our successes and we are committed to bringing this to a quick resolution.”
2 Investigates reached out to McLaughlin for comment but did not receive a response.
McLaughlin is also the same officer seen in cellphone video from August where he pulled his gun out in a busy Walnut Creek shopping plaza over a minor argument with another man in August, according to video obtained by 2 Investigates.
In the August incident, McLaughlin had a verbal argument with Santiago Hutchins who was entering a restaurant at the plaza to celebrate his son’s birthday.
“[Officer McLaughlin] did say to people on the phone that they have a gang member,” Hutchins said. Hutchins is not affiliated with a gang, and he said his tattoos represent family and religion. He believes McLaughlin racially profiled him.
“I was heated, so I kept arguing with him. He later identified himself [as an officer], but he still had me at gunpoint,” said Hutchins referring to the several minutes he’s heard yelling at McLaughlin with his hands up.
Cellphone video of their interaction goes on to show McLaughlin, off-duty in a T-shirt and shorts, take down Hutchins with another police officer and an off-duty deputy who happened to be in the area. McLaughlin is seen punching and elbowing Hutchins leaving his face bloody.
Hutchins was arrested, but the charges were dropped. Chief Bidou said he believes Hutchins was the aggressor.
On the Sana G Morning Show on 106 KMEL, callers recounted their run-ins with Officer McLaughlin.
“This officer is known in Vallejo already!” said one caller. “I even had a run-in with him when I had an ex-boyfriend who tried to kill me and he specifically asked what I did to provoke it.”
2 Investigates learned McLaughlin is from Salinas. He was an officer with Oakland police between 2010 and 2014. It’s unclear why he left. McLaughlin has an identical twin brother who also left Oakland police and is now a police officer in Vallejo. Both joined in 2014. Since then, McLaughlin has been involved in two police shootings.
Candice Nguyen is an investigative reporter with KTVU Fox 2. E-mail tips and stories to her at firstname.lastname@example.org.