As a criminal defense attorney in San Diego, many times I’ll hear from clients about police mistreatment. I hear stories of suspects who claim they were manhandled both during arrest and at the jail.
And while many of these stories are truly horrifying, the fact remains that they’re almost impossible to corroborate without definitive evidence.
As a former prosecutor I know how hard it can be to bring a case against police officers accused of using excessive force.
The last time a law enforcement officer from San Diego was actually charged with going too far was more than 10-years ago when a California Highway Patrol officer was accused of using excessive force on a DUI suspect in the entrance to the County jail.
The two cases do have one common thread-video evidence to back up the claims. In the first case, the jail’s video monitoring system caught the incident on video tape.
In this latest case, a neighbor videoed the arrests and caught the arresting sheriff’s deputies punching one man and pushing the other into a fence after both were handcuffed.
In this day and age, everybody should be aware that any incident outside of normal day-to-day activities will most likely end up recorded on somebody’s phone and most likely on a police body camera as well, since more and more officers are wearing them these days-both to document events and to protect themselves against abuse claims.
As for the accused sheriffs deputies, both could face jail time, although probation if they’re convicted is far more likely.
Meanwhile, the father and son arrested in this case have seen resisting arrest charges dropped-although the son in this case did plead guilty to domestic violence charges.
We’ll see how this all plays out in the coming months-and I would expect we will see more of these cases as well as camera phones become more and more common.