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Federal lawsuit accuses officers of beating teen in Stockton, California

Incident happened on Dec. 30, 2020

Carol Ozemhoya, OW Contributor | 4/6/2021, 10:17 a.m.
The family of a Black teenager...

The family of a Black teenager who said Stockton, California, police “viciously beat” him during a 2020 arrest filed a federal lawsuit against the city and four officers, reports NBC News.

The teen, Devin Carter, was left with bruises on both eyes as well as scratches on his face and back after he was arrested following a Dec. 30, 2020, traffic stop. Two officers, Michael Stiles and Omar Villapudua, were fired over the incident.

John Burris, an attorney for the family, released photos of Carter’s bruises as well as police body camera video.

The footage shows an officer yelling at Carter to “take his f------ seat belt off.”

“OK, OK, OK. I’m down,” Carter responds as he'’s pulled from his car and forced to the ground. “I’m not resisting,” the 17-year-old repeatedly says.

In the video, Carter can be heard screaming in pain and repeatedly saying “ow” as officers place him in handcuffs.

Burris said the officers acted like a “pack of wolves” and without any provocation or cause, pulled the young Black man from his car and viciously beat him.

He said he had not seen a police beating this violent since Rodney King, a Black man who was beaten by Los Angeles police in March 1991. The city erupted in riots in 1992 after a jury acquitted four White officers seen in video footage beating King.

“Devin was afraid that the officers were going to beat him to death,” the attorney said.

The lawsuit, which was filed Friday, says that Carter was driving to his father’s house when officers began following him in an attempt to pull him over for speeding. The teen was initially unaware that police were behind him, the suit states.

The lawsuit accuses officers of using a “pursuit intervention technique” to get Carter to stop, which caused another vehicle to swerve. The car was hit by a police vehicle, according to the suit, which states that Carter was unaware of the accident.

The teen eventually stopped and waited in his car with his hands “visibly raised above the steering wheel,” the lawsuit says. He was then pulled from the car and slammed to the ground, according to the lawsuit.

“Devin Carter immediately curled up in a fetal position as multiple officers gathered around him and viciously beat him with their closed fists and feet,” it says. “Devin Carter was kneed in his face by an officer and was struck in the face a number of times. Additionally, Devin Carter was kicked and kneed in his side and back.”