SAN BERNARDINO – The San Bernardino Police Department on Tuesday was scrutinizing an eyewitness video which shows an officer repeatedly striking a motorist with a baton while another officer tries to hold the suspect down.Police Lt. Dan Keil said Darren Johnson, a 43-year-old San Bernardino resident, was pulled over at about 10:30 p.m. Monday in the 200 block of West Highland Ave.
Two officers witnessed several vehicle code violations, including failure to stop at a stop sign and failure to stop at a traffic signal, Keil said.
“After being contacted, he became increasingly agitated and aggressive and struck one of the officers,” Keil said.
Johnson was booked into West Valley Detention Center in Rancho Cucamonga on suspicion of possession of cocaine, transportation of cocaine and assault on a peace officer, Keil said.
Keil said Tuesday that he did not immediately know whether the officers would be suspended, but that the incident is under investigation.
Keil said he didn’t know the amount of cocaine that Johnson had in his possession.
The video, filmed by 38-year-old Brandon Piddington, appears to show one San Bernardino officer holding a man down on the ground and another striking the man in the legs about nine times with a baton.
“One officer had him on the ground on his back. They were telling him to get on his belly. I guess he wouldn’t do it,” Piddington said.
The four-minute video, which was posted on the Web site Youtube.com, begins with the man on the ground with police and does not show what led up to his arrest. The video has since been removed from Youtube by Piddington for unknown reasons.
“It’s a partial rendering of what happened,” Keil said.
Piddington said he was at the 7-Eleven at the corner of Highland and Mountain View avenues to buy a Vitaminwater. He noticed two officers talking to the motorcyclist in the parking lot.
When he exited the store, the officers had the man on the ground and one was striking the man with a baton.
Piddington pulled out an iPhone and began filming the incident.
Several people at a neighboring laundromat came outside when they heard the commotion. He said one of the officers had blood on his neck and arms, but he did not know where the blood came from.
Once the man on the ground was handcuffed, a third officer who arrived at the scene approached Piddington and asked if he witnessed the incident.
When the man said he did, the officer asked him his name. Piddington asked why the officer needed that information.
“Because I want to know what you saw,” the officer said during the video. “It could be pertinent to this, all right?”
Piddington said the number of times the man was struck seemed excessive, but he acknowledged he did not know the reason police were arresting him.
“To me it was about documentation and not passing judgment,” he said. “I know nothing about the guy’s history. He could’ve been a two-strike felon, he could’ve had something on him – drugs, a weapon.”