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Investigation launched into use of force by Santa Maria police in recent confrontation

Posted at 5:44 PM, Nov 05, 2019

An administrative investigation has been launched following video of a man's confrontation with Santa Maria police that went viral last month.

Santa Maria Police Chief Phil Hansen tells KBSY News that an administrative review is conducted for every use of force case, but based upon “some things that give me concern” after he viewed the video and with the public’s interest, he felt it was best to step it up to the next process.

Hansen says the investigation raises the spectrum for potential discipline and also gives the employees involved the right to have attorneys or union representatives present when interviews are being conducted.

The investigation will “work its way up through the process,” Hansen says. The incident is being handled by a lieutenant and the interviews reviewed by a commander, according to the chief, who says he will get the final review. It’s unknown how long it could take but the chief says they have no interest in dragging it out.

Hansen says they are not rushing to judgement and stresses that the video people are seeing is “a very short segment of video that was captured.” He says the incident lasted more than 15 minutes.

“It’s easy but not right to look at something like that and draw an immediate conclusion about what’s right wrong or indifferent about it,” Hansen says.

The video posted Oct. 20 shows police fire what appear to be pepper-spray bullets and move in on a man after they can be heard telling the man to put his hands to his side.

Witnesses said this prompted what some of them are calling a violent confrontation.

Santa Maria police do not have body cameras but audio and video recordings from the patrol cars will be reviewed as part of the investigation.

Hansen says they will be honest in the review and forthcoming with the public regarding anything they can release.

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