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Videotape tale: Will arresting officers now face charges?

Another videotape.

And its result: a multitude of criminal charges being dismissed against a man who was otherwise facing a bleak future.

With a caveat: It's now the arresting police officers who face harsh scrutiny and could be facing criminal charges themselves.

Many of our readers in Alameda County and across the state have likely seen -- perhaps dozens of times in successive replays that have become television staples in recent months -- the candidly hard-to-watch footage of two police officers tackling and beating a man who had reportedly stolen a car. A police report chronicling the incident stated that, after being seen in the stolen vehicle, the man rammed into a police car and injured an officer.

After the officers drove the man to the ground in an alley, things turned markedly violent. The surveillance tape speaks for itself, obviously (and in a quite literal manner, with its audio component adding a chilling dimension to the encounter), and readers will make their own judgments.

One media account from the San Jose Mercury News states that the beating administered by the officers "has been characterized by use-of-force experts and civil rights advocates as savage and egregious." The story notes the "dozens of times" that the man was struck by police batons while laying on the ground.

Reportedly, all charges against the man -- including assault with a deadly weapon and felony hit-and-run -- were dismissed.

The central question in the matter is now this: Will the officers be criminally charged for their behavior?

One retired police official who is now a criminology professor says that his reaction after viewing the video is that the officers "are likely going to end up in prison for this."

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