A Vallejo police officer is still on the job after a violent arrest Friday was caught on cellphone video, and the community is now wondering how the department will handle what some believe was an excessive use of force.
Footage of the incident outside a gas station shows the officer confront a man who reportedly was acting erratically. The video shows the officer wrestling the suspect to the ground, repeatedly punching him and using what appears to be a flashlight to strike the man. The department said the video doesn’t show the whole story.
The gas station clerk described what happened leading up to the confrontation, saying the suspect was blinking his eyes and talking erratically.
"I was scared," the clerk said. "Like, what if (the man) really has a gun on him?"
The cellphone video shows the man sitting on the median on Fairground Drive when an officer approaches on foot. He shouts instructions at the man then immediately punches him as the man tries to shield his face.
When back-up arrives, the officer hits him again then appears to reach for his firearm, all while bystanders are yelling at the officer to stop.
"He is still probably working today right now," witness Ray Martin said.
Three days after the incident, Vallejo police confirmed the officer is "not on administrative leave." They added that what is not shown in the video is the suspect running from police for several minutes before the officer made a decision to use force.
Vallejo resident Sean Hudson said the officer is well known in the community, and he can’t believe the cop is still on the job.
"I haven’t had dealings with that particular officer, but I know people that have, and it wasn’t good," Hudson said. "If you have an officer doing these types of things to people but he’s not on paid anminstrative leave, it seems like you wouldn’t even want him on the force anymore."
Vallejo police Chief Andrew Bidou released a statement, saying in part, "I have complete confidence in our internal affairs division and our use of force experts who will conduct this investigation. Upon completion, I will thoroughly review the entire investigation and personally make a final determination."
NBC Bay Area has confirmed the name of the officer but is not reporting it pending an investigation. He is a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps and served in Afghanistan, earning a number of military honors. He graduated from the Napa Valley Police Academy, ranking second in his class.
The suspect was booked on suspicion of being under the influence of a controlled substance, resisting arrest, resisting or threatening an officer with force and a probation violation, police said.