SAN FRANCISCO—On Friday, March 23, a San Francisco Superior Court Judge ruled that two former deputies of the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office will stand trial for the assault on a suspect, Stanislav Petrov in 2015. On November 12, 2015, multiple officers noticed the suspect driving around San Leandro in a car that was reported stolen.
When deputies attempted to stop Stanislav Petrov he hit a sheriff’s vehicle before making his way across the Bay Bridge, where a high-speed chase ensued. A deputy was injured when Petrov’s vehicle made contact with a sheriff’s cruiser.
Officers named in the felony assault and battery charges are Luis Santamaria, a 14-year veteran of the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office, and Paul Wieber, a three-year veteran of the department. Both Santamaria and Wieber allegedly chased down Petrov on foot where video surveillance footage from The Mission District shows Petrov slowing down as the officers approached him.
District Attorney Inspector Eric Tejada indicated in court on Friday, March 23 that when Petrov slowed down, the suspect was attempting to surrender. Wieber can be seen tackling Petrov and hitting him repeatedly before Santamaria joined the combat with an expendable baton.
Tejada stated to the court that up until this point in the sequence of events that both officers used an appropriate amount of force, but Petrov was trying to comply, which was when deputies should have diffused the situation. Deputies took more than 30 swings with their batons at Petrov’s head, who did not fight back. A motion-triggered security camera caught footage of the beating, which ended when backup officers arrived.
The two officers are no longer with the Department, but Petrov remains in custody for gun and drug charges in a federal case following a March 2016 search of his apartment that was conducted by the FBI.
The SF Examiner reported that the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office indicated that training for officers regarding the use of force has expanded with revisions to the current hiring practices to boot. Santamaria and Wieber are currently out on bail, but expected back in court on April 16.