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Police chief: Video of California cops beating man looks ‘horrific’ but it needs to be viewed in context

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LOS ANGELES — A police investigation was under way Tuesday into the emergence of a video that shows Salinas, Calif., police officers repeatedly beating an assault suspect with batons while taking him into custody, KTLA reported.

The incident happened last Friday, when police moved in to arrest Jose Velasco, 28, who was allegedly trying to throw his mother into the path of oncoming vehicles after he was reportedly screaming, running into traffic and jumping onto cars.

The man attacked the officers as they tried to pull him off of his mother, according to a police news release.

Velasco allegedly grabbed an officer’s Taser and pulled it from its holster. Police attempted to subdue him by twice deploying a Taser, to no effect, according to officials.

A passing motorist recorded part of the encounter. The cellphone video, posted on YouTube, begins after Velasco was separated from his mother.

She is seen sitting on the ground as one of the two officers swings his baton at her son, striking him repeatedly. More police vehicles then arrive at the scene.

Two more officers join the fray. One of them visibly swings his baton several times.

“Velasco continued to struggle and resist, eventually needing five officers and the use of batons to control and place him into handcuffs,” the news release said.

He was placed in an ambulance, where he allegedly grabbed an officer and a paramedic and attempted to bite them while being transported to  Natividad Medical Center.

The suspect was “chemically restrained” at the hospital, and was booked after being released from that facility, officials said.

“I think anybody who looks at that video without context would have concerns because it looks terrible,” Salinas Police Chief Kelly McMillin told KSBW, a Salinas-based television station.

“Just the video alone, I agree, is horrific and inflammatory, but when you start making sense of how we got there and what the officers were trying to accomplish there, then — it still doesn’t make it pretty — but makes, I think, people understand.”

The incident was under investigation, McMillin said, and the department had not yet made any judgment on the use of force.

Velasco was facing charges of felony resisting a police officer and four misdemeanors: obstructing an officer, battery on an officer, assault with a deadly weapon, and being under the influence, according to the Monterey County Sheriff’s Office.

He was being held on $30,000 bail.

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