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Deputies in San Francisco beating stole suspect's gold chain, took 'trophy' photo, lawsuit claims

Deputies in San Francisco beating stole suspect's gold chain, took 'trophy' photo, lawsuit claims
The beating of a man by Alameda County sheriff's deputies was caught on surveillance video. (Note: The video is disturbing and contains several shouted obscenities.) (San Francisco public defender's office)

A group of Alameda County sheriff's deputies tackled a surrendering car thief suspect, beat him with batons, stole his gold chain then took a "trophy" photo of him bloodied on the ground, according to a federal lawsuit filed in Northern California on Monday.

In the suit, attorneys for Stanislav Petrov claim their client was hospitalized for 12 days, suffered a concussion, broken hands and facial fractures from his violent arrest Nov. 12 in a San Francisco alley, which came at the conclusion of a car chase that began in the East Bay.

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The lawsuit claims that Petrov, who was being chased after police determined the car he was driving was reported stolen, ran down an alley then put his hands up to surrender. Deputy Paul Wieber tackled Petrov then he and Deputy Luis Santamaria unleashed a barrage of punches and baton blows to Petrov's hands and head before other Alameda County sheriff's deputies arrive and take him into custody.

Unbeknownst to the deputies at the time, a nearby business' security camera captured the entire arrest on camera. The video apparently contradicts the initial report Wieber and Santamaria submitted about Petrov's arrest and department commanders ordered them to rewrite it after the footage was posted on YouTube, the lawsuit claims.

The video shows one deputy walking off with a gold medallion Petrov wore around his neck, according to the lawsuit. The medallion was never booked into evidence and the deputy instead offered it to a transient who witnessed the beating in exchange for their silence, Petrov's attorney claims.

One deputy used a cellphone to snap a picture of Petrov bruised and beaten on the ground as a "trophy," the attorneys claim.

Both Santamaria and Wieber were charged in May with with assault under the color of authority, battery with serious bodily injury and assault with a deadly weapon for Petrov's arrest. They have pleaded not guilty and are free on $140,000 bail and due back in court this month.

Santamaria and Wieber's attorneys were not immediately available to comment. Petrov was never charged with a crime in connection with the case. His suit seeks unspecified damages.

For breaking California news, follow @JosephSerna on Twitter.

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