Deputy Michael Devitt and Mohamed Sayem

Scott Sanders/Buzzfeed News

California deputy caught on dashcam beating drunk man

The video, what he told his supervisor, and what he filed in the report are three different stories.


Alex Dalbey


Posted on Oct 19, 2018   Updated on May 21, 2021, 3:42 am CDT

Dashcam footage has been released that shows a Southern California sheriff’s deputy lied about what led to him repeatedly punching a drunk man in the face before arresting him.

The altercation happened on August 19 when 33-year-old Mohamed Sayem was found sleeping in the driver’s seat of his vehicle by two Orange County Sheriff’s deputies. The dashcam footage shows the deputies go to either side of Sayem’s Jeep before speaking with him. There’s a short exchange that’s mostly unintelligible, largely due to Sayem’s intoxication. Then deputy Michael Devitt reaches into the vehicle and starts pulling Sayem out, punching him repeatedly in the face, even as he is in the process of falling to the ground. While on the ground Sayem asks if they’re going to shoot him, and one of them responds, “I’d like to.”

This dashcam footage runs counter to the claims made by Devitt about how the situation unfolded, and in fact, his claims contradict each other. The dashcam footage captured Devitt’s supervisor, Sgt. Christopher Hibbs arriving on the scene and asking what happened. Devitt tells the supervisor that Sayem “stepped out of the vehicle and stood over me.” Rather than telling the truth, that he punched Sayem repeatedly until he fell, Devitt says to his supervisor, “I grabbed the back of Sayem’s shirt with his shoulder to slow down his fall…I helped him fall to the ground basically.”

However, the report filed by Devitt tells a completely different story. In the report, he claims that Sayem grabbed onto his vest and wouldn’t let go. Despite this bearing no resemblance to the story Devitt initially told Hibbs at the scene of the arrest, Hibbs approved the report.

The Orange County Sheriff’s Department said in a statement that the dashcam footage shows an appropriate use of force and that, “Any assertion otherwise substantially misrepresents the facts, and serves only to swell an anti-law enforcement narrative.”

Sayem’s attorney assistant public defender Scott Sanders, says this is a ridiculous assertion. “There is no way you can justify that level of violence when video shows that this guy was so wholly intoxicated that he can’t even wake up or insult them,” Sanders said to BuzzFeed News. He also filed a motion in which he compared the testimony and reports made by the deputies, and flagged all the lies he could confirm from video and audio recordings of the altercation

H/T Buzzfeed News

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*First Published: Oct 19, 2018, 10:01 am CDT