Salinas, Calif. – A brutal attack on a mentally ill man by Salinas police was caught on cell phone video Friday. The graphic video shows officers relentlessly beating a man with batons as he lay on the ground.
Police claim Jose Velasco, 28, was attempting to shove his mother into oncoming traffic. However, a woman claiming to be Velasco’s sister, Antionette Ramirez, disputed the police narrative, claiming “He didn’t try to kill my mom. … She walked away just fine,” she said.
The victims mother had initially called police about her son running into traffic. The responding officers’ claim they saw Velasco slamming his mother onto the pavement upon their arrival on the scene.
Police claim Velasco attempted to grab an officer’s Taser, removing it from its holster, with an officer then firing another Taser at him twice with no effect, according to The Californian.
The video catches none of that.
While police have taken the stance that five officers were beating Velasco mercilessly with batons to force compliance and put him into handcuffs, it seems clear from the video that the brutal beating was extreme and excessive.
Multiple officers can be seen hitting the victim with haymaker power swings with their batons while Velasco is laying prostrate on the pavement. The video then appears to show the officers holding Velasco down until another officer arrives on the scene. The newly arrived officer immediately begins brutalizing him with his baton as other officers restrain Velasco on the ground.
Salinas police are no strangers to controversy, as another video of Salinas police officers beating a suspect, which is eerily similar to this incident, came to light last January.
It’s clear from the video that these officers were not attempting to restrain this man, but rather were caught up in a frenzy of violence and attempting to inflict severe damage on Velasco by beating him like a pinata. There is a distinct line between attempting to force compliance and sadistically exacting punishment.
The victimization of the public is unmistakable. These cops were engaging in punishment; not an attempt at compliance or protecting themselves from harm. Actions such as these are why people are increasingly beginning to perceive police in a negative light.
Jay Syrmopoulos is an investigative journalist, free thinker, researcher, and ardent opponent of authoritarianism. He is currently a graduate student at University of Denver pursuing a masters in Global Affairs. Jay’s work has previously been published on BenSwann.com and WeAreChange.org. You can follow him on Twitter @sirmetropolis, on Facebook at Sir Metropolis and now on tsu.