By BRIAN ROKOS | firstname.lastname@example.org | The Press-Enterprise
A San Bernardino County sheriff’s deputy is under criminal investigation after a videotape of an arrest in Victorville showed him twice kicking a pursuit suspect in the head as the suspect appeared to be surrendering.
“This incident raises concerns. I expect my deputies to remain professional while engaging the public,” Sheriff John McMahon said in a written statement.
The deputy was placed on paid administrative leave. The department declined to identify him.
The incident began at about 12:40 a.m. on Wednesday, when a deputy attempted to pull over a motorcycle rider for committing traffic violations in the area of 7th and Lincoln streets. The driver, later identified as Willie C. Jones, 33, did not stop, prompting a pursuit, a sheriff’s news release said.
Jones ran several stoplights before driving north in the southbound lanes of the 15 Freeway, almost causing head-on collisions, the release said. Jones left the freeway at La Paz Drive and ditched the bike near a car dealership.
The video, obtained by the website TMZ, shows a man emerging from a hiding place underneath a car. He looks around and, bent over, slinks for several feet before standing up and walking several more feet. Soon after, a deputy approaches in a shooting stance, shining a flashlight at the man. It was unclear whether the deputy was also holding a gun.
The man walks toward the deputy and puts his hands up. The man then gets down on his knees and prepares to lay prone, bracing his upper body with his arms. His left arm is out in front of him and his right arm, on the far side of his body from the deputy, is folded beneath him.
The deputy slowly approaches but then takes two quick steps like a football player kicking off and kicks the man in the head. The man rolls over slightly and both arms are visible. The deputy then kicks the man in the head a second time.
Five seconds later, a second deputy runs into view and assists in handcuffing the man.
A sheriff’s supervisor later arrived, and the security company that monitors the dealership’s surveillance video told him that the arrest was recorded, the Sheriff’s Department said.
“The watch commander reviewed the video and immediately determined the deputy’s actions were disturbing,” said Undersheriff Shannon Dicus, speaking in a video attached to the news release. “The watch commander notified the commander of the station. It is unfortunate when incidents like these occur because it causes turmoil within our communities and equally amongst our deputies who pride themselves on providing professional service.”
It was unclear Saturday whether the second deputy to arrive witnessed the kicking and reported it to supervisors, as department policy requires in cases of suspected use of inappropriate force.
“Due to this being an active investigation, no further details are being released about the incident,” sheriff’s spokeswoman Jodi Miller said Saturday.
The department’s report on the criminal investigation will be forwarded to the District Attorney’s Office for consideration of charges, Dicus said. Then an internal investigation will take place to determine whether the deputy violated any department policies.
Jones was treated at the scene for injuries before being booked into jail on suspicion of felony evading. He was released after posting bail, county jail records show.
Jones could not be reached for comment Saturday.