Two former Stockton, Calif. police officers accused of violently beating a Black teen last December were indicted by a grand jury on felony assault charges.
The Associated Press reports that Michael Stiles and Omar Villapudua were each indicted on felony counts of assault by a public officer and assault with force likely to cause great bodily injury on Friday.
The office of San Joaquin County’s District Attorney Tori Verber Salazar said both men are due to appear in court on Nov. 5.
Per the AP:
“This grand jury indictment reminds us all that when police use unlawful force, they undermine community trust,” she said in a statement. “As the daughter of a police officer, I know how important that responsibility is to restore community trust, safety, and honor to the profession.”
Stiles and Villapudua are two of four officers that were involved in the beating of Devin Carter, who was 17 at the time of the Dec. 30, 2020 incident. Body camera footage showed the officers pulling Carter out of his car and forcing him to the ground.
More from the AP:
Photos released by Carter’s attorney, civil rights lawyer John Burris of Oakland, show the teen with deep purple bruising around his eyes and what appears to be a shoe or boot print on the left side of his face.
Body cam footage shows officers pulling Carter from the car. They can be heard yelling expletives at the teen and telling him to stop resisting. Carter is heard screaming in pain and fear, and telling officers that he’s not resisting.
Burris said officers punched, kneed and kicked Carter in the face, neck, and back as he lay in a fetal position. The department advises officers “to avoid striking an arrestee around the head and neck area when possible.”
“All the time he’s crying. It’s pretty awful what they did to him, and it was an old-fashioned beat-up that cops did,” said Burris, who won a $3.8 million judgment against the Los Angeles police department after officers there beat motorist Rodney King in 1991.
“We’re delighted that prosecution is occurring, and we hope it sends a clear message to others in this department that there are consequences,” he said.
Police have said that Carter was pulled over for allegedly speeding over 100 mph and leading officers on a brief chase before he was forced to stop.
According to the AP, attorney Burris said Carter was speeding partially because he was afraid of being pulled over in the dark and was “terrified” that he could be killed. The teen was ultimately booked into a juvenile detention facility on evading and resisting charges.
In a statement disagreeing with the grand jury indictments, the Stockton Police Officers’ Association said Carter caused a crash between a police vehicle and a civilian vehicle during the pursuit and claimed he repeatedly reached into his waistband as officers tried to detain him.
But despite the union’s stance that officers’ actions were justified, per the AP, the police department’s investigation ultimately found that Stiles and Villapuadua did use excessive force on Carter. They were fired in March.
The Los Angeles Times reports that the other two officers involved that weren’t indicted have been placed on administrative leave. They’ll return to duty soon.
From the LA Times:
It was unclear why the grand jury made its decision, but Salazar said she was asking that the transcript of the proceeding be made public in coming days.
After the grand jury announcement, Carter said he was disappointed that only two officers were charged. He said he still feels “panic” when he drives and is worried about being pulled over by the officers who were not charged.
“It just scares me,” he said.