STOCKTON, Calif. (KTXL) – Two former officers with the Stockton Police Department were indicted by a grand jury Friday on charges stemming from the violent arrest of a then 17-year-old boy in December 2020.
Former Stockton police officers Michael Stiles and Omar Villapudua were indicted Friday on multiple counts including assault by a public officer and assault with force likely to cause great bodily injury.
On December 30, 2020, high school student Devin Carter was pulled over for allegedly speeding. Stockton police said Devin Carter was driving erratically and speeding over 100 mph, leading officers on a brief chase that put the officers and the public in danger before they were able to pull him over.
According to Stockton police, four officers – including Stiles and Villapudua – then used force to detain Devin Carter. Video of the incident, made public by John Burris Law Offices, shows Devin Carter being pulled from the vehicle by officers after being stopped.
“The images and the sounds of hearing my son screaming and yelling and crying, screaming, ‘I’m not resisting.’ And the images of them kicking and stomping and kneeing his neck and head,” mother Jessica Carter told FOX40 in March. “How do I learn to live with that for the rest of my life? It was horrific.”
Stiles and Villapudua were fired from the Stockton Police Department following the incident “for using excessive force outside of the department’s policy and training.” Stiles had been with the department since June 2018 and Villapudua was hired in January 2016.
“Our department has policies that state we should make attempts to avoid striking an arrestee around the head and neck area when possible,” said Stockton Police Chief Eric Jones at the time of the officers’ firing. “Given this set of circumstances, I cannot and will not condone any excessive force. Additionally, any use of profanity is considered unwarranted and not professional.”
The Carter family’s attorney, John Burris, praised District Attorney Tori Verber-Salazar for the prosecution, saying that regardless of the outcome it will, “send a clear message that in this county, there will be a severe price to pay for officers who use their badges to commit horrific crimes.”
“Those who violate their oath to protect and serve discredit the good work that law enforcement strives to do every day,” Verber-Salazar said. “This Grand Jury reminds us this indictment reminds all of us that when police use unlawful force. They undermine community trust as your district attorney, I have the responsibility to ensure equality, accountability and justice for all.”
Even with Friday’s announcement, Devin Carter says he still doesn’t feel safe.
“Knowing that two out of four of the officers are being prosecuted, and those other two are still on the force, I am in fear for my life,” Devin Carter explained. “Say I do get pulled over by those two officers, the way I will be treated next time. If I get pulled over, will there be retaliation? Those are all of my main factors when I am driving.”
The Stockton Police Officers Association released a statement following the indictment, saying it “strongly disagrees with the Grand Jury decision.”
See their full statement below.