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Council rejects claim over alleged police brutality
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The Ceres City Council had rejected claims for damages filed by a south Modesto man who claims that he was battered by Ceres police officers during an Aug. 18 police pursuit.

Joseph Ray Sweet Jr. claims officers "beat" him "severely" and sustained two gashes on his head. He claims that Ceres Police officers Dirk Niewenhuis and Brian Albonetti used excessive force by kicking and beating him with fists.

Police gave an account of the incident, claiming that Sweet, 35, fought officers at the end of a pursuit that started at 9:32 p.m. on Sunda, Aug. 18.

Niewenhuis and Albonetti attempted to stop Sweet, the driver of a black 1994 Saturn, at Hatch and Richland for failing to stop at a stop sign. Instead of pulling over, Sweet led officers on a pursuit that went on for a few moments before the car crashed into bushes with one tire over an embankment at 1647 River Road. Sweet was unable to exit the wrecked car and repeatedly ignored warnings to show his hands. Police attempted to remove him through the front windshield. Sweet put up a brief fight, attempting to grab Niewenhuis' firearm out of its holster, said Ceres Police Lt. Brent Smith. The officers struck Sweet to gain control of him and placed him in handcuffs.

Sweet was taken to a local hospital where he received medical clearance before he was arrested and charged with possession of methamphetamine, leading police on a pursuit and obstructing or delaying a peace officer.

Police have a routine policy of not commenting on specific aspects of claims of brutality.