Salinas police chief defends 'horrific' video of mentally-ill man being beaten by officers

'The video alone I agree is horrific and inflammatory'

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The Independent US

A police chief has defended his officers after a video emerged of a 'mentally-ill' man being beaten as he lay on the ground.

A YouTube video showing two officers beating a man with batons as he rolled around on the floor before another group of officers arrived and joined in was recorded by an eyewitness’s mobile phone in Salinas on Friday.

In an interview with local TV channel, KBTV, the central Californian city’s police chief, Kelly McMillin, admitted the video was “horrific and inflammatory” but defended his officers describing Velasco as a “violent man” who was attacking his own mother.

Officers were called to the scene after it was alleged Jose Velasco was screaming, running through traffic, jumping on cars and attacking his mother. He then resisted arrested and two attempts to taser him failed.

They said Velasco had been attempting to throw his mother into the road when they intervened.

Velasco, who was described as mentally-ill by his sister according to a local news channel, suffered hits to the head, legs, hands back during the 45 second beating.

McMillin said he “absolutely” had concerns about the behaviour of his officers in the video but he urged people to bare the circumstances of Velasco’s arrest in context.

He said the 28-year-old man later admitted that he was smoking methamphetamine and drinking alcohol on the day of the incident.

“If people watch this video and get upset because they believe that the police were beating up a homeless guy, I would argue that they are misinformed," he said. "This was a very violent man beating a woman in a public street, tearing weapons from police officers' belts, trying to bite them, trying to headbutt them.

“I think anybody who looks at that video without context would have concerns because it looks terrible. Just the video alone I agree is horrific and inflammatory.”

He added the methamphetamines had made Velasco “incredibly strong”.

Velasco was taken to a local hospital to receive treatment for a broken leg and was later charged with assault with a deadly weapon, assault on an officer causing injury, resisting arrest, and violating parole.

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