California family files lawsuit after officers allegedly beat Black teen

Devin Carter suffered bruises on both eyes and scratches to his face

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The family of a Black teen has filed a federal lawsuit against the city of Stockton, California and four police officers who “viciously beat” the teen during a 2020 arrest, according to NBC News.

Devin Carter, 17, suffered bruises on both eyes and scratches to his face and back when he was arrested on Dec. 30, 2020, during a traffic stop. The incident led to the firing of two officers, Michael Stiles and Omar Villapudua. All four officers involved in the incident are under criminal investigation by the District Attorney.

Images released by Carter’s attorney show the extent of his injuries. Courtesy Law Offices of John Burris. (via NBC News)

The officers reportedly punched and kicked Carter in his face and back while yelling out profanities.

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According to the lawsuit that was filed on Friday, “Devin Carter immediately curled up in a fetal position as multiple officers gathered around him and viciously beat him with their closed fist and feet.” Carter was driving to his father’s house when officers began to follow him in an attempt to pull him over for speeding. The teenager was unaware that the police were behind him, the lawsuit states.

Stockton Police Chief Eric Jones in a statement on Tuesday says that “several” officers were disciplined and that officers Stiles and Villapudua were fired for acting “outside the scope of both our policy and training.” He also called their behavior “unprofessional.”

“Our department has policies that state we should make attempts to avoid striking an arrestee around the head and neck area when possible. Given this set of circumstances, I cannot and will not condone any excessive force. Additionally, any use of profanity is considered unwarranted and not professional,” says Jones.

John Burris, an attorney for the family, released photos of Carter’s bruises as well as footage from a police body camera, which showed officers yelling at the teen to “take his f—— seat belt off.” 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.”

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Carter could be heard screaming in pain and responding “OK, OK, OK. I’m down. I’m not resisting,” as he was being pulled from the car and forced to the ground, according to NBC News.  

In a press release, Burris said Carter feared the officers would “beat him to death” and called their actions “atrocious.”

“The officers’ conduct was so atrocious that they should be criminally prosecuted. The most troubling aspect of this case is that these officers must have believed that they were somehow immune from department discipline and could get away with their conduct knowing that their body-worn cameras were on. These vicious cops acted like a pack of wolves, and Devin was their evening meal. I have not seen a police officer beating this outrageous since my former client Rodney King was beaten byLAPD officers back in March of 1991,” the statement read.

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