A video showing two deputy sheriffs using their fists and batons to batter a suspect who seemed to be surrendering in a San Francisco alley has prompted Bay Area public defenders to call for criminal charges against the officers.

The beating comes at a time of heightened scrutiny of the use of force by police, after several high-profile confrontations with suspects that triggered protests across the US over the past two years.

The Alameda County Sheriff's Office said 26-year-old Stanislav Petrov fled authorities in a suspected stolen car, rammed a police cruiser and led officers on a high-speed chase before the arrest.

Alameda County Public Defender Brendon Woods called the beating disgusting and said in a statement on 15 November that it reminded him of the 1991 police beating of Rodney King in Los Angeles.

The security camera video, which was uploaded to YouTube on 13 November by the San Francisco Public Defender's Office, shows Petrov running into the alley in San Francisco's Mission District before he slows and is tackled by one of the two Alameda County Sheriff's deputies.

The pair can then be seen punching and hitting him with batons at least three dozen times as he screams. At points in the video, Petrov can be seen trying to stand, surrendering and shielding himself from the blows.

Alameda County Sheriff Sergeant JD Nelson said the incident started around 1.30am on 12 November in San Leandro, when deputies were checking on a stolen vehicle. Nelson said Petrov fled and rammed a sheriff's cruiser, causing a deputy to suffer minor injuries, before a 38-minute chase that ended with Petrov crashing into a parked car and fleeing on foot.

Nelson said Petrov had a criminal history and would face numerous charges. He said the two deputies were placed on administrative leave as an investigation into their conduct began.

The San Francisco Public Defender's Office said: "Prosecutors must pursue criminal charges against the deputies." A spokeswoman for the office said Petrov had been hospitalised with broken bones in his hands and arms and lacerations to his head.