Alameda County Sheriff’s deputies thought Stanislav Petrov had stolen the white Mercedes Benz he rammed into two of their cars before he lead them on a high-speed chase across the Bay Bridge, from Castro Valley into San Francisco.
That’s where the beating took place: Video shows two deputies chasing Petrov on foot into an alley where they are seen striking him repeatedly with batons — “probably the worst law enforcement beating on video that we’ve seen since Rodney King,” civil rights attorney Michael Haddad said, according to the San Jose Mercury News.
Within days, the November incident garnered massive media attention in the Bay Area.
Now, a new twist has emerged: After being struck 40 times, deputies took Petrov’s gold medallion and money to bribe potential witnesses, according to a claim filed by Petrov’s lawyers Tuesday.
“If those allegations are true, then the deputy or deputies that took items from Mr. Petrov are no better than the criminals they arrested,” Alameda County Sheriff’s Department spokesman J.D. Nelson told reporters.
The department is investigating the theft and bribery allegations, the San Francisco Chronicle reported. Deputies Luis Santamaria and Paul Wieber, who were shown tackling and beating the 29-year-old Petrov in the video, were previously placed on administrative leave. Now, a third deputy has been placed on leave in connection with the new allegations.
According to the court filing, nearly a dozen deputies arrived on the scene, and at least two “took a trophy photo” of Petrov while he “lay bleeding on the ground.”
Deputies then stole money and a “valuable gold chain with a cross medallion” from him and gave the belongings to bystanders as “bribes and attempts to silence witnesses,” according to the claim.
This week, a homeless pair spoke to local media, saying that they witnessed the beating in San Francisco’s Mission District and were offered “hush goodies.”
Alameda County Sheriff Georgy Ahern told reporters Tuesday that “if that allegation is true, that is one of the most horrific things I’ve heard.”
The deputy implicated by the homeless pair’s claim — a 20-year veteran of the force — was not one of those shown beating Petrov, according to the Chronicle.
Last week, Fox affiliate KTVU published portions of a police report that were mistakenly released as part of a public records request; in the report, deputies on the scene said they feared for their safety. One reported seeing Petrov reaching for his waistband and feared for a fellow deputy.
The Merecedes wasn’t stolen, but rather had been leased to Petrov, who didn’t return it when required by the dealership, Haddad said, according to the Mercury News.
The claim filed by Haddad alleges deputies used excessive force.
Officials also announced this week that there is body-camera footage of the incident; Wieber inadvertently activated his camera.
Ahern, the sheriff, said Tuesday that use of body cameras will now be mandatory, the San Jose Mercury News reported.
San Francisco Public Defender Jeff Adachi, whose office released the surveillance footage in November, said the officers’ conduct “was criminal from the beginning.”
“But now it’s clear this wasn’t simply a case of anger getting the best of a couple of officers,” Adachi said in a statement Tuesday. “Stealing, bribing witnesses, shutting off body cameras — that describes a calculated conspiracy among nearly a dozen deputies.”
No criminal charges have been filed. “As with every case that comes into this office, we must be sure that a thorough investigation has been conducted so that justice is done,” District Attorney spokesman Alex Bastian said, according to KTVU.