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Charges dismissed against ex-Alameda deputy accused in Mission District beating

San Francisco Chronicle 11/17/2022 By Annie Vainshtein
Alameda County sheriff's deputy Paul Wieber arrives at the Hall of Justice for a hearing on Thursday, May 26, 2016, in San Francisco, Calif. © Noah Berger, Freelance / Special To The Chronicle

Alameda County sheriff's deputy Paul Wieber arrives at the Hall of Justice for a hearing on Thursday, May 26, 2016, in San Francisco, Calif.

A San Francisco Superior Court judge dismissed the charges against a former Alameda County sheriff’s deputy on Thursday who was accused of unlawfully beating a man in the Mission District in 2015.

Paul Wieber, 35, cried into the arms of the small group of people who came to support him Thursday after the charges were dismissed. The judge’s decision was unsurprising following a plea bargain Wieber struck with the District Attorney’s Office during Chesa Boudin’s administration.

Recently elected District Attorney Brooke Jenkins said her office strongly disagreed with the outcome of Wieber’s case but could not alter the terms of the plea deal.

A misdemeanor charge Wieber pleaded guilty to will also be expunged from his record, the District Attorney’s Office said.

Assistant District Attorney Darby Williams — who leads the division that probes cases against police officers — asked Judge Braden C. Woods for Wieber to continue to be on probation for one more year.

Wieber’s attorney, Rick Pinckard, countered that Wieber had effectively been on probation for the last seven years.

The judge ultimately denied the request for more probation, adding that in reading through the defendant’s filings, it had been a “kick in the stomach” to read that Wieber had been rejected from nursing school.

“The fact that you still want to give back to the public is commendable,” said Woods.

In November of 2015, Wieber and another deputy, Luis Santamaria, pursued a 29-year-old man suspected of ramming a stolen car into two patrol cars in the East Bay.

The deputies embarked on a high-speed chase across the Bay Bridge and continued pursuing him on foot into a Mission District alley, where they were captured on video capturing the suspect and beating him with batons.

The aftermath of the incident left the suspect, Stanislav Petrov, with head trauma and broken bones. He was later taken into federal custody for weapons and gun charges, The Chronicle reported.

Alameda County paid Petrov a $5.5 million civil settlement, and Wieber and Santamaria were both fired from the department.

Boudin’s predecessor, George Gascón, initially charged the two deputies with assault and battery felonies. When Boudin took over the case, he first dismissed it, then refiled the case, saying that a key witness’ medical situation and the pandemic caused delays.

Boudin ascended to office on a promise of accountability for law enforcement. But his office quietly struck plea deals with the deputies, suggesting prosecutors weren’t confident in taking the case to trial.

Boudin previously declined to comment on why his office handled the case in the way it did. Prosecutors handling the case previously said Wieber’s plea deal was in line with that of other defendants confronting similar charges.

As part of his own plea bargain, Santamaria withdrew his not-guilty plea last year to assault by a public officer, battery with serious bodily injury and assault with a deadly weapon, and was assigned to a mental health diversion program for post-traumatic stress disorder, according to court records.

Jenkins, who helped oust Boudin from office during a bitter recall fight, called the deals “excessively lenient.” Wieber, she said in a statement, was “extremely fortunate” given the “severe brutality of his unprovoked attack” that he was not facing more “appropriate consequences.”

“It is maddening and against the interests of justice, but our hands were unfortunately tied,” Jenkins wrote. “Mr. Wieber should never be able to work in law enforcement again because of his crimes, but as a result of the prior administration’s unexplained... plea deal, there is a potential that he will.”

Standing just a few feet away from where Wieber was being embraced by people who appeared to be family members, Pinckard said his client felt the “ends of justice had been met.”

“Mr. Wieber is glad to be able to put this behind him and hopefully move on with his life,” Pinckard said.

Annie Vainshtein (she/her) is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. Email: Twitter: @annievain

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