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Two California police officers indicted in beating of Black teen in Stockton

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Two Stockton police officers were indicted by a grand jury Friday on felony charges for the beating of a Black teenager in December.

Former Stockton officers Michael Stiles and Omar Villapudua were each charged with two counts of assault, said San Joaquin County Dist. Atty. Tori Verber Salazar on Friday afternoon. The indictment in the case remains under seal.

The charges stem from a Dec. 30 incident in which Stockton police pursued Devin Carter, then 17, for speeding. Police said at the time that Carter turned his lights off and led officers on a three-minute pursuit. After Carter stopped, body camera footage released by his lawyer, John Burris, shows officers pulling Carter from the vehicle and slamming him on the ground.

Carter can be heard yelling, “I’m not resisting.” An officer yells back, “Yes, you are,” in the grainy footage, which shows multiple officers hitting Carter as he lies curled on the pavement.

After the California city went bankrupt, Stockton cut its police department by nearly a quarter. Eight years later, it’s a lesson on what fewer police can and can’t do.

Villapudua and Stiles were fired from the force earlier this year because of the beating. Carter filed a federal lawsuit earlier this year against the City of Stockton, Villapudua, Stiles and two other officers involved in the incident.

Burris, a civil rights attorney who specializes in cases of police brutality, compared Carter’s beating to that of another of his clients, Rodney King.

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“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 by LAPD officers back in March of 1991,” Burris said in a statement.

Devin Carter and his lawyer John Burris, right.

Devin Carter and his lawyer John Burris, right, in Stockton, Calif. on Friday, Sept. 17, 2022. Two Stockton police officers were indicted Friday in the 2020 beating of Carter, whose injuries are depicted in the posters behind.
(Anita Chabria / Los Angeles Times)

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