No charges will be filed against Salinas police officers in the alleged baton beating of a 28-year-old man whose arrest earlier this month was captured on video, the Monterey County District Attorney’s Office announced Wednesday.
Jose Velasco, 28, was arrested on June 5 by Salinas police after a struggle that involved multiple shots with a Taser and the use of batons.
The struggle was captured on a cellphone video by a bystander and posted to the internet, triggering a public outcry and a claim filed with the city by Oakland civil rights attorney John Burris on behalf of Velasco and his mother, who was present during the arrest. Burris said Velasco, who was under the influence of methamphetamines, suffered injuries during the arrest including a broken leg and bruises to his torso, arms, legs and face, according to the claim.
Monterey County District Attorney Dean Flippo today said in a statement that after a review of the evidence and independent consultations with instructors in defensive tactics using batons, he had concluded there was insufficient evidence to prove officers committed any crimes during the incident.
Flippo said he could not comment further on the reasons for that decision because it could prejudice Velasco’s pending criminal case, but expected that further evidence relating to the arrest would be presented at Velasco’s preliminary hearing.
Burris today said he was not surprised by the decision. He said he has asked federal officials to investigate the officers and the department:
“The force used by the officers was excessive, brutal and, we believe, criminal. … That the DA has chosen not to charge them is not surprising to me.”
Velasco has been charged with felony assault on his mother likely to cause great bodily injury, removing a police officer’s Taser while resisting arrest, a felony, and misdemeanor assault on a firefighter in connection with his June 5 arrest, prosecutors said today. He is scheduled to be arraigned on July 2.
Burris said the criminal charges filed against Velasco today mean the filing of a civil lawsuit in federal court will need to wait until after the criminal case is resolved, to avoid compromising the case.
Velasco was arrested on North Main Street near Sherwood Gardens Shopping Center after callers reported a man screaming, running into traffic and jumping on cars, according to Salinas police.
Police said officers found him allegedly slamming a woman, later identified as his mother, into the pavement near passing traffic.
Police arrested him after a struggle that involved two attempts to subdue him with a stun gun and batons. During the struggle, police said Velasco took a Taser from one of the officers and attacked both police officers and paramedics.