Sheriff Decries Attorney's Release of Video in Deputy-Involved Conflict

SANTA ANA (CNS) - Orange County Sheriff Sandra Hutchens fired back today at a public defender who claims a sheriff's deputy physically assaulted a drunken suspect in Stanton two months ago then falsified his report on the arrest.

Mohamed Sayem, 33, passed out in his SUV outside the Corner Pocket Bar about 5:30 a.m. Aug. 19, prompting a call to deputies to check on his welfare, Assistant Public Defender Scott Sanders said.

Sanders said one of the deputies “yanks” Sayem out of the vehicle and that the deputy initially claimed the defendant “then put (the deputy) in a bear hug.” However, in his official report, the deputy “writes the guy stepped out of the car, and he gets rid of the bear hug, and instead says `he was pulling on my safety vest and that's why I had to do it,”' Sanders said.

“When my client is on the ground he asks, 'Are you going to shoot me?' and the second deputy says, 'like to,' “ Sanders said. “My client says, 'really, really?' and they don't answer.”

A short dash-cam video of the arrest showing the deputy repeatedly striking the man was widely televised Thursday.

On Friday, Hutchens released a video firing back at Sanders, accusing him of publicizing 15 minutes of video -- out of more than an hour of footage.

“I personally reviewed what you don't see on the video that was released,” Hutchens said.

“The deputy sheriff responded to a call and when the deputy got there he encountered an individual in a vehicle who appeared to be sleeping and passed out. And the deputy tried to rouse the suspect in the vehicle, even asking if he needed medical attention. He tried several times to wake the suspect.”

Sayem appeared “extremely intoxicated and belligerent,” Hutchens said.

“The suspect did not comply with this deputy, who spent an inordinate amount of time trying to get him to comply, which is according to our procedures, and at some point the suspect appeared to be putting his feet out of the car,” Hutchens said.

“The deputy provided very clear instructions to the suspect and the suspect did not comply with the deputies,” the sheriff said. “Appropriate use of force was used at that time.”

When paramedics arrived at the crime scene the suspect “continued to be belligerent and refused to let (paramedics) see him,” Hutchens said.

The sheriff said it was “egregious” that Sanders released the evidence in the case to the media.

“My deputy is not on trial,” Hutchens said. “The suspect is on trial for attacking a peace officer. I stand 100 percent behind my deputies. What he wrote in his report is exactly what occurred in the video and what I personally saw in the video, so the allegations made by the public defender that the deputy changed his story or altered the facts is entirely inconsistent with what I saw in the report. I'm confident anyone who saw all of the information would come to the same conclusion.”

In response, Sanders suggested Hutchens make a second video addressing the claim that one of the deputies expressed a desire to shoot the suspect “and how all that fits in her description of perfect police conduct.”

Sanders has filed a motion in the case seeking disciplinary records of the deputies involved in the arrest. A hearing is scheduled for Nov. 8.

Sanders said the supervisor who arrived on scene to take a report on the conflict with Sayem was Sgt. Christopher Hibbs, who nine years ago was put on trial for allegedly using a Taser on a handcuffed suspect, but the jury deadlocked 11-1 in favor of acquittal and prosecutors dropped the case.

“What I'm hoping is the district attorney will dismiss” the case against Sayem, Sanders said.

Sayem is charged with felony resisting arrest for using violence.

“There's no force or violence -- that's all made up,” Sanders said. “The deputy blows it, beats him up and instead of taking responsibility for it he decides to make my client a felon and that's what's so offensive. He shouldn't be treated like a felon because the deputy used excessive force.”

Photo: Getty Images

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