What You Need To Know:
A federal lawsuit has been filed against the city of Stockton, CA and four Stockton policemen who are accused of beating 17-year-old Black high school student Devin Carter. The beating left Carter with a broken nose, black eyes, and a boot print on his cheek.
“These vicious cops acted like a pack of wolves,” said Oakland civil rights lawyer John Burris, who is representing the teen. Burris also represented Rodney King after his 1991 assault by Los Angeles police officers.
While driving to his father’s home around 8:30 p.m. on December 30, 2020, police began following Carter for allegedly driving more than 100 miles per hour. According to a statement by Stockton Police, Carter shut off his lights and led officers on a three-minute chase instead of pulling over when signaled. A “pursuit intervention” maneuver was used by police to stop the car, which caused airbags to deploy. However, the lawsuit claims Carter remained in the car with his hands above the steering wheel until an officer yanked him from the vehicle and slammed him to the ground without warning. “Officers’ body camera footage shows that multiple officers began to repeatedly punch, knee, and kick Devin Carter in his face, neck, and back as he laid in a fetal position screaming in agony.” Officers yelled “stop resisting” with Carter responding, “I am not resisting.” The teen was booked into juvenile hall on suspicion of evading police and resisting arrest.
In response to the lawsuit, Stockton Police Chief Eric Jones said “…several of the involved officers are receiving discipline,” and that departmental policies “…state we should make attempts to avoid striking an arrestee around the head and neck area when possible.” Two of the four defendants, officers Michael Stiles and Omar Villapudua, have been fired for using excessive force. No details have been released concerning the other two named defendants in the lawsuit, officers Daniel Velarde and Vincent Magana.
The teen continues to suffer emotional distress from the incident and is seeking unspecified damages.
Why We Need To Know:
Beating up a child in a fetal position who wasn’t fighting back was necessary? Black people can be taken into custody alive but at what cost? Where’s the defining line for decent treatment by police during arrest and do we, as Black people, have one?