A Vallejo, California, police officer was caught on video repeatedly punching a man with his fists and flashlight before threatening a group of bystanders with his service weapon on Friday.
The officer was responding to a report of a man behaving erratically at a Valero gas station, according to San Francisco’s KRON-TV.
The footage, filmed by a bystander and posted to Facebook, begins with the officer pursuing an unidentified man on foot. Moments later, the man appears to give up and sits on a median strip. The officer then rushes over and forcibly shoves the man, who appears to be unarmed, to the ground.
A brief struggle ensues, during which the man can be heard screaming, “I am God, I am God,” as the officer repeatedly strikes him with his fist and a flashlight. In the video clips below, the officer and others can be heard yelling profanities as a crowd gathers to witness the scene.
“The kid surrendered,” one witness told San Francisco’s KPIX 5 News. “The cop, on the other hand, came right up behind him. He immediately dove on the kid and started whaling on him.”
At one point in the video, someone can be heard yelling “Police brutality!” The officer continues beating the man as a second officer arrives on the scene.
When tensions in the crowd seem to rise, the first officer removes his handgun from its holster and tells everyone to “get the fuck back.” Arriving officers then push the crowd back.
The video appears to show at least one bystander’s arrest. The man the first officer beat was charged with being under the influence and resisting arrest, according to KPIX 5. It remains unclear what, if any, charges have been filed against other people at the scene.
Don Cameron, a police trainer interviewed by KPIX 5 on Saturday, defended the actions of the officer involved in the beating.
“That’s what they’re trained to do,” Cameron said. “When we’re down on the ground, we want to get the person in custody as quickly as we can and we use personal weapons.”
Former Oakland Police Chief Howard Jordan said that while he agreed with the officer’s initial response, he did not feel a continuous use of force was necessary.
“It does look bad [and] it does appear inappropriate,” Jordan told KPIX 5.
Vallejo police are asking the public to refrain from making judgments until police complete an internal investigation.
“Just like anyone else officers are innocent until proven guilty,” the department said in a statement. “Violence is always ugly but police officers are exposed to violent situations every day and they are required to overcome that violence not just match it. We will investigate this matter and will take the appropriate action if any policy or law has been broken.”