SALINAS, CA - A man is behind bars after police say he tried to throw his mother into oncoming traffic in Salinas, California.
But its cell-phone video of police beating the man with batons that is raising questions.
Felix Cortez reports.
(Chief Kelly McMillin) "I think anybody who looks at that video without context would have concerns because it looks terrible”
That video shows Salinas police beating 28-year-old José Velasco repeatedly with their batons while he's on the ground. The beating caught on cell phone has gone viral on YouTube.
(Raul Tapia) "Excessive? Yes it was. We don't know the whole outline of it, again the police doing their job but when you see it on film or on YouTube it's just like wow that's a beatdown. It kind of raises concerns."
Monday afternoon, police chief Kelly McMillan urged restraint surrounding Friday’s arrest of José Velasco, saying viewers need to understand the whole picture, not just 100 seconds of video. According to the chief, Velasco threw his mother into oncoming traffic on Main Street near Bernal. And when officers showed up, he was pounding her body on the pavement. The chief says Velasco had been drinking and was high on meth. He resisted arrest and took a taser from an officer. Fearing he might go for their gun, officers repeatedly swatted his hands and legs to get him in cuffs.
(Kelly McMillin) "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 still doesn't make it pretty but makes I think people understand, with that information now it makes more sense."
On YouTube, praise and outrage for Salinas PD. One viewer said police were using those night sticks as if it were a piñata. Another viewer - good job SPD. He tried to kill his own mom. Velasco's sister chimed in, saying her brother didn't try to kill my mom. Said her brother is mentally ill and questioned why police hit him while he was on the ground. And concern from Milpa, an organization trying to foster peace and better relations between the community and police.
(Raul Tapia) "We understand that if you're doing bad things you're going to get bad outcomes but there's a certain limit and a certain protocol to that."
(Chief Kelly McMillin) "And we haven't made any judgment on the use of force yet. It's going to be investigated. What I've described to you is what's been reported to us. We need to make sure all of that lines up with our policy."
Velasco was taken to the hospital with a fractured leg.
He may make a court appearance today (Tuesday) on charges of assault, resisting arrest and violating parole.
All but one of the officers involved in the incident are back on the job.