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Crime News Black Lives Matter

Police Beating Of California Teen Caught On Body Camera Video Leads To Civil Rights Lawsuit From Rodney King's Attorney

Two officers have been fired by Stockton Police after an investigation into the brutal beating of teenager Devin Carter on Dec. 30. 

By Kevin Dolak
Devin Carter

Two California police officers have been fired after an investigation into the brutal December beating of a Black teenage motorist, which has also now led to a federal civil rights lawsuit from the attorney who represented Rodney King after a similar police assault in 1991. 

Devin Carter, 17, was pulled over in Stockton on Dec. 30 by police officers Michael Stiles, Omar Villapudua, Daniel Velarde, and Vincent Magana after the teenager was allegedly speeding and driving erratically, police say. Carter had turned off the headlights of his 2005 Mercedes and led officers on a three-minute chase, local outlet CBS 13 reported, after “speeding in excess of 100 mph,” police said.

In police body camera footage released by the department, Carter is seen being violently pulled from his vehicle as he screams and tells officers that he is “not resisting.” 

“Yes you are,” one officer is heard yelling at Carter, amid a slew of profanities hurled at the teen. They then remove him from the car and begin to beat him on the pavement as he screams in anguish. In the footage, officers are seen repeatedly punching and kicking Carter in his face and back. After the assault by the police officers, the teen was detained and booked into juvenile hall on charges of evading and resisting arrest, according to CBS 13.

On Friday, civil rights attorney John Burris announced the filing of a federal civil lawsuit in the case. 

“These vicious cops acted like a pack of wolves, and Devin was their evening meal,” Burris said in a statement. “I have not seen a police officer beating this outrageous since my former client Rodney King was beaten by LAPD officers back in March of 1991.”

The legal complaint states that Carter was driving to his father's house when officers saw him speeding and began to follow his vehicle; he was unaware that the police car was behind him, according to the suit. Officers then used a "pursuit intervention technique,” which caused another vehicle to swerve; it was then hit by a police car, the suit states. A police vehicle then collided with Carter’s vehicle, as seen in the police footage. Carter had his hands placed on his vehicle’s steering wheel and waited for officers to approach.

After the incident, both of Carter's eyes were bruised, one eye was bloodshot, and bruises and marks were on his face and back — including what seems to be a shoe print — as can be seen in photos released by Burris. 

Stockton Police Chief Eric Jones previously said that the four officers involved in the incident were placed on administrative leave as the case was investigated. He announced last week that officers Stiles and Villapuda had been terminated from the force and all of the officers remain under investigation by the city’s district attorney. Stiles had been with Stockton police since June 2018, while Villapudua joined in January 2016, CBS 13 reported.

“The investigation determined two of the involved officers were well outside the scope of both our policy and training. Our department has policies that state we should make attempts to avoid striking an arrestee around the head and neck area when possible,” Jones said in a statement. “Given this set of circumstances, I cannot and will not condone any excessive force. Additionally, any use of profanity is considered unwarranted and not professional.”

Jones added that the other officers will be “receiving discipline as a result of the investigation,” CBS13 reported. Carter’s family had been able to view the body camera footage, he said. 

“No mother should see or hear her son beaten by the police and helplessly crying from the pain. This has been a mother’s worst nightmare,” the teen’s mother, Jessica Carter, said in a statement.

Carter continues to have emotional distress after the violent encounter, according to the lawsuit. 

Burris told Oxygen.com on Wednesday that Carter’s girlfriend had been traveling in a vehicle behind him the night of the incident. He claimed that the officers first saw his girlfriend, then “went for him.” 

“This was a classic example of racial profiling case,” he said, adding that after the incident, Carter had nightmares but that he is now “adjusting pretty well.” 

The Carters are a “solid middle-class family,” Burris noted, adding that several men in the family have worked in law enforcement. 

The 2005 Mercedes that Carter was driving and damaged in the incident, he said, had been purchased that same day from a tow lot by the teenager.