Family Files Lawsuit After Black Teen Is Brutally Beaten by California Police Officers After Alleged Car Chase

Illustration for article titled Family Files Lawsuit After Black Teen Is Brutally Beaten by California Police Officers After Alleged Car Chase
Photo: Bennian (Shutterstock)

It appears that a lot of police officers think that being led in a car chase justifies them beating the shit out of Black people once they’ve caught up with them. From Antonio Harris to Ronald Greene to Javier Ambler, their cases remind us that there are very few things that are as dangerous to Black people as a cop’s ego—and they wonder why some of us run.

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The family of a Black teenager who became another victim of police violence after a traffic stop last year in Stockton, California, filed a federal lawsuit against the city and four officers involved in the altercation in which police officers said the teen led them on a high-speed chase, but the teen said he didn’t even realize the cops were trying to pull him over.

NBC News reports that on Dec. 30, 2020, Devin Carter “was left with bruises on both eyes as well as scratches on his face and back” after he was arrested following the stop.

John Burris, the attorney representing Devin and his family, released photos of the teen’s injuries as well as police body camera video of the incident that resulted in two officers, Michael Stiles and Omar Villapudua, being fired.

From NBC:

The footage shows an officer yelling at Carter to “take his f——— seat belt off.”

“OK, OK, OK. I’m down,” Carter responds as he’s pulled from his car and forced to the ground. “I’m not resisting,” the 17-year-old repeatedly says.

In the video, Carter can be heard screaming in pain and repeatedly saying “ow” as officers place him in handcuffs.

The lawsuit, which was filed Friday, says that Carter was driving to his father’s house when officers began following him in an attempt to pull him over for speeding. The teen was initially unaware that police were behind him, the suit states.

The lawsuit accuses officers of using a “pursuit intervention technique” to get Carter to stop, which caused another vehicle to swerve. The car was hit by a police vehicle, according to the suit, which states that Carter was unaware of the accident.

The teen eventually stopped and waited in his car with his hands “visibly raised above the steering wheel,” the lawsuit says. He was then pulled from the car and slammed to the ground, according to the lawsuit.

“Devin Carter immediately curled up in a fetal position as multiple officers gathered around him and viciously beat him with their closed fist and feet,” it says. “Devin Carter was kneed in his face by an officer and was struck in the face a number of times. Additionally, Devin Carter was kicked and kneed in his side and back.”

Of course, the police had a different version of the story claiming that they went after Devin because he was driving “erratically and speeding in excess of 100 mph,” and accusing him of turning off his headlights and leading police on a roughly three-minute chase that ended when he lost control of his car and crashed. Devin was booked into a juvenile detention facility and charged with evading and resisting arrest.

Notice that neither version of the story even comes close to justifying cops brutally beating a teenager or anyone else.

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According to NBC, Stockton Police Chief Eric Jones said in a statement Tuesday that four officers used force during the arrest—leaving one to wonder why only two were fired—and that several officers have been “disciplined” behind the incident.

“Our department has policies that state we should make attempts to avoid striking an arrestee around the head and neck area when possible,” Jones said. “Given this set of circumstances, I cannot and will not condone any excessive force. Additionally, any use of profanity is considered unwarranted and not professional.”

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Burris said in a press release that “Devin was afraid that the officers were going to beat him to death.”

And they wonder why Black people run.

Zack Linly is a poet, performer, freelance writer, blogger and grown man lover of cartoons

DISCUSSION

The thing is, it’s not up to the police who arrest someone to punish them. It’s up to them to take the suspect into custody, then at some later date, after the suspect has access to a lawyer and a courtroom, the suspect’s guilt or innocence will be established and any punishment apportioned.

If any officer decides on his own in the heat of anger or as a result of bigotry to exact revenge or mete out punishment, that officer has committed a crime independent of any crime the suspect might have committed and has proven himself unfit for the job and deserving of his own day in court.

It’s not about what the suspect did, it’s about what the police officers did.