California

Video shows Rocklin cop beating unarmed DUI suspect. D.A. says images ‘speak for themselves’

One month after a Placer County jury acquitted a Rocklin police officer of excessive force, the Placer County District Attorney’s office released body camera video from the incident showing the officer repeatedly striking a drunken driving suspect with his baton even after the man had fallen to the ground and began screaming in pain.

The release of 40 minutes of video footage from five camera angles depict a dramatic confrontation between police and Emilio Perez-Chavez, a repeat DUI offender who was being chased by police when he pulled into an apartment complex parking lot and initially tried to hide from officers at about 6 a.m. on a Sunday in September 2017.

Police, standing with guns drawn, order him to come out with his hands up with Officer Brad Alford shouting, “Put your hands up and get out of the car, I’m going to shoot you if you don’t f------ start complying.”

As the suspect emerges, the videos show Alford beating Perez-Chavez with his baton, and shouting “Get down, quit fighting” even after the suspect was on the ground screaming.

Another officer stood nearby shouting, “Stop, stop, stop. Tase, Tase, Tase. We’ll Tase.”

Perez-Chavez suffered a broken arm and finger, and Alford was arrested two days later after his fellow officers reported concerns to the department about his actions.

Perez-Chavez pleaded to a DUI charge and Sacramento attorney Stewart Katz filed a claim against the city that was settled for $249,000.

Alford was charged with assault with a deadly weapon, assault and assault by a public officer and pleaded not guilty. He went to trial, where the videos were played for the jury, and was acquitted on all counts.

The videos had remained sealed by court order until Wednesday morning, when Placer District Attorney R. Scott Owens’ office won the right to release the videos.

“While our office disagrees with the outcome, we respect the jury’s verdict,” Owens’ office said in a statement accompanying the release of the videos. “We also understand that proof beyond a reasonable doubt is a high burden to meet.

“Our office does, however, stand by our investigation and continues to believe that the prosecution in the case was appropriate given the video evidence that was presented to the jury. We believe the attached videos speak for themselves.”

Katz, the attorney for the DUI suspect, agreed, saying the beating was “uncontrolled, unnecessary, unprovoked and out-of-control.”

“It’s fortunate that his injuries were not even more severe,” Katz said of his client. “It says something that another officer actually intervened to get him to stop.”

Alford, 43, who was a 15-year veteran of the department at the time, could not be reached for comment. Alford’s lawyer had objected to the court’s release of the videos, the D.A.’s office said.

Alford is still employed by the Rocklin Police Department, but has been on administrative leave for some time, Capt. Trent Jewell said Wednesday.

At the time of the incident, Rocklin Police Chief Chad Butler said the video appeared to show the use of excessive force.

“There’s no excusable reason for unethical or illegal conduct,” he said at the time. “This single incident does not define members of the Rocklin Police Department.”

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Sam Stanton has worked for The Bee since 1991 and has covered a variety of issues, including politics, criminal justice and breaking news.
Molly Sullivan covers crime, breaking news and police accountability for The Bee. She grew up in Northern California and is an alumna of Chico State.
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