Salinas, Calif., police officers were called in Friday evening to help Jose Velasco, who suffers from an unspecified mental illness, according to family. The 28-year-old was reportedly running into traffic, so his mother called the police requesting assistance, Raw Story reports.
Video of the incident, however, shows officers beating Velasco with batons and using a Taser on the young man. According to the news site, officers claim that Velasco tried to push his mother into traffic, but a woman claiming to be his sister, Antoinette Ramirez, denied those claims.
“He didn’t try to kill my mom; she walked away just fine,” Ramirez insisted.
“My poor brother,” she added. “He is mentally ill, and the cops had no right to keep hitting him; he was already on the floor.”
Officers say that the man resisted before turning on officers when they tried to get him away from his mother. Cops accuse the young man of trying to grab one of the officers’ Taser gun, prompting officers to shock him twice as he continued to resist.
According to Raw Story, at least three of the officers hit Velasco with their batons while he was on the ground, but they claim that Velasco had his hands under his body and would not show them to the police.
One officer in particular is seen hitting Velasco several times as the young man is being held down by the other officers. The authorities said that those strikes would be reviewed to see if they were justified.
“They used batons to subdue him,” police spokesman Spencer Critchley said, according to the site. “It’s the behavior in the moment that needs to be controlled. They were using force because they judge him to be a threat, [so] they hit him until he stops resisting.”
According to The Californian, the police declined to comment on Velasco’s mental health, citing privacy.
The 28-year-old was taken to the hospital, but police say he went on to attack an officer and a paramedic while in the ambulance. Velasco allegedly attempted to bite officers through the gurney rails and was “chemically restrained” at the hospital, Raw Story notes.
The young man has since been booked on several felony counts and a parole violation since his release from the hospital.