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Video of Vallejo officer hitting man with fist and baton sparks outrage, investigation

The chief of the Vallejo Police Department has ordered an investigation into an officer's actions following public outrage over a cellphone video that shows the officer punching a man and then striking him with a baton.

In a statement issued Monday, Chief Andrew Bidou said the department was aware of the attention surrounding the video, so he called for the "full and complete investigation." The department's Internal Affairs Division and use of force experts will conduct the investigation, he said.

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"Upon completion, I will thoroughly review the entire investigation and personally make a final determination," the chief said. "I ask for your continued patience as we proceed through this process."

The chief's statement comes after mounting public scrutiny with some residents claiming the officer's actions were police brutality.

Cellphone videos of the takedown began circulating on social media over the weekend following Friday's confrontation at a Valero gas station on Fairgrounds Drive. (Warning: The video contains graphic language.)

The dispute started just after 3:10 p.m. when a gas station employee reported a man was "acting irrationally and confrontational, causing the employees to be 'frightened,' " police said in a written statement.

According to police, officers responded to the gas station and tried to contact Dejuan Hall, who refused to comply and ran away. The officer chased the 23-year-old Vacaville resident for several minutes, police said.

The video shows the officer running toward Hall, who then stopped and sat on a concrete island in the middle of the roadway. The officer ran toward Hall from behind and pulled him to the ground, which sparked a flurry of screams from bystanders.

As the officer sat on Hall, he appeared to be struggling to gain control of Hall's arms. The video shows the officer punch Hall's face, and as Hall tried to shield his face, the officer unleashed a second punch and then struck Hall's face with his forearm.

As bystanders yelled at the officer, he screamed, "Shut up. Get back," and briefly tugged at his gun holster.

When Hall broke free from the officer's grip, the officer pulled a baton from his belt and struck Hall's left arm at least three times. In the video, bystanders can be heard yelling, "Police brutality."

A second officer then arrived, and as he held onto Hall's arm, the first officer struck Hall again with the baton.

The video shows the first officer cursing at a bystander, who also responded with a slew of profanity.

A second video shows the officer turn toward a bystander as he removed his handgun from its holster, pointed it toward the ground and screamed, "Get the (expletive) back."

The officer then struck Hall's arm again three times with the baton.

A third video showed at least three officers on top of Hall as they pinned him down.

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The same video shows another officer pinning and handcuffing a second man who had approached officers as they were restraining Hall.

Police said Hall was arrested on suspicion of being under the influence of a controlled substance, resisting arrest, resisting or threatening an officer with force and a probation violation.

Geoff Alpert, a criminology professor at the University of South Carolina who has researched police procedures, said the officer will need to explain "why he had to use that level of force."

"After one or two blows, the officer was clearly able to get control of the guy," Alpert said.

He said authorities must investigate the moments leading up to the chase, which was not shown in the videos. The videos also don't show whether Hall was holding anything in his hands when he first sat down in the roadway, Alpert said.

"I still don't see any reason for what the officer did," he said.

Twitter: VeronicaRochaLA

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UPDATES:

10:55 a.m.: This article was updated with comments from Geoff Alpert, a police procedure expert.

This article was originally published at 10:30 a.m.

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