Chief Calls Police Beating in California Caught on Video 'Horrific' Only Without Context
Horrific, inflammatory, justified
Police in Salinas, Caliornia, said they were called about 28-year-old Jose Velasco when he allegedly started running through traffic and jumping on cars. When cops arrived, they say Velasco was assaulting his mother (he allegedly slammed her to the ground) and "violently resisting arrest."
According to police, that's the set up for this video depicting police violence:
"The video alone is horrific and inflammatory," the police chief, Kelly McMillin, told the local NBC affiliate. "Anybody who looks at that video without context would have concerns, because it looks terrible."
But there's a big but from McMillin: "If people watch this video and get upset because they believe that the police were beating up a homeless guy, I would argue that they are misinformed," he told the NBC affiliate. "This was a very violent man beating a woman in a public street, tearing weapons from police officers' belts, trying to bite them, trying to headbutt them."
McMillin claimed Velasco admitted to using meth and drinking alcohol that day, which the chief said contributed, along with Velasco's mental illness, to a "recipe for disaster." McMillin even suggested the meth made Velasco "incredibly strong." But there's actually no empirical evidence to suggest even long term use of meth makes people more threatening to others.
Velasco was charged with assault with a deadly weapon, assault on an officer causing injury, resisting arrest, and violating parole. There have been no reported suspensions and no report of an investigation into the video.
The public employee rules in California, going back to 1913, make it almost impossible for local departments to dismiss problem cops whose violent tendencies may pose a threat to others without a long process of appeal during which that cop continues to cost the city money to employ. That's a "recipe for disaster" too. Whether or not the officers' actions in the video were justified or not, the history of the inability to discipline cops in California who make bad decisions about using force erodes any trust that could exist about cops making the right decisions about using force.