A police department in Salinas, California, is facing criticism over video that showed officers using what is believed to be excessive force on a man who had just shoved his mother into the street.
The video (below) shows the officers hitting 28-year-old Jose Velasco repeatedly with batons and shooting him with Tasers. The incident escalated after officers responded to a call about Velasco screaming, attacking his mother and running into traffic, reports KSBW. Velasco, according to his family, is mentally ill. The officers who initially responded to the call reported that they witnessed the man throwing his mother into traffic.
“The video alone is horrific and inflammatory,” Salinas Police Chief Kelly McMillin said. “Anybody who looks at that video without context would have concerns, because it looks terrible."
According to McMillin, Velasco admitted to smoking methamphetamine and drinking alcohol before the incident began.
“If he is mentally ill, I would submit that methamphetamine and alcohol intoxication on top of that is all a recipe for disaster,” he said. “He was incredibly strong because of the methamphetamine.”
“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,” McMillin continued. “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."
The Salinas Police Department subsequently released a statement responding to the controversy and clarifying what was happening throughout the course of the video.
“Two officers responded and saw Jose Velasco slamming the female's body into the pavement of the northbound lane of North Main Street while heavy traffic was passing by. As the officers tried to get Velasco off of his mother by pulling him away, Velasco began to violently resist and attacked the officers,” the statement read.
“Two Taser deployments were attempted on Velasco, neither having any effect on him. As other officers arrived on scene, Velasco continued to struggle and resist, eventually needing five officers and the use of batons to control and place him into handcuffs."
Velasco was arrested and charges with assault with a deadly weapon, assault on an officer causing injury, violating parole and resisting arrest.
Watch video of the incident below.
Photo Credit: Screenshot via KSBW