Petersburg Chief says young man alleging brutality has refused to talk

Posted at 11:40 PM, Jul 22, 2014
and last updated 2014-07-23 06:33:27-04

PETERSBURG, Va. -- Petersburg Police Chief John Dixon spoke on record for the first time since a complaint was filed by a 19-year-old man who alleges police officers assaulted him.

In June Devin Thomas first showed us a cell phone video filmed at the Petersburg East Apartments.

It showed two police officers yelling at the person filming, telling him to get inside, and then the camera phone falls to the ground.

It is impossible to tell what is taking place when the camera phone is on the ground, but Thomas said one of the officers began beating him.

Devin Thomas

Thomas showed us scars on his chin, ear, chest, and arm that he said are from the incident.

Thomas said he went to the hospital where he was diagnosed with a concussion.

“They hit me in the side of my face with a club, and I was bleeding really bad,” Thomas said.

Court papers Thomas showed up said police charged him with disorderly conduct and resisting arrest, which are charges Thomas said are unwarranted.

Thomas's uncle, Miles Owanga, raised his concerns about the police department Tuesday night before City Council.

"They pray on the community not knowing their rights being uneducated and being poor where they can't hire adequate council," Owanga said.

The Petersburg Police Department continues to investigate the incident.

"We've always been able to fairly investigate, evaluate whatever happens," Chief John Dixon said.

"Well it's what we tell you all the time while it's under investigation we don't typically reveal any info until the investigation is complete," Dixon said when asked why the media has't heard from him on the issue.

Chief Dixon said his department is having trouble investigating the incident fully.

"We have reached out to them and they've refused to come and talk to is at this point," Dixon said

But, Owanga said the reason for that is Thomas wants to have his lawyer there.

He also said the police are not treating citizens fairly, so we posed that question to the chief.

"I haven't heard that from anybody but the news," Dixon said.

At least one Petersburg resident says he will reserve judgement until all the facts come out.

"Was it really that cut and dry? If it's really that cut and dry than the police chief has some work to do," John Downing said.