LOS ANGELES - A disturbing video posted to social media that appears to show a uniformed Los Angeles Police Department officer whaling on a man being detained has prompted an internal investigation for misconduct and excessive use of force.
Watch the full video below
The incident happened on April 27 when two officers in the Hollenbeck Division responded to a report of a trespassing individual in the 2400 block of Houston Street. The officers contacted the individual and told him to leave the private property, according to the Los Angeles Police Department.
"During the course of the investigation a physical altercation occurred between the suspect and one of the officers, resulting in the officer receiving minor injuries to his hand. The suspect had abrasions to his head and face but refused medical attention," LAPD said in a statement.
A uniformed supervisor responded to the scene and initiated a preliminary investigation consistent with the Department's reportable use of force protocols," the statement continues. "A community member who reportedly witnessed some portion of the altercation provided the supervisor with a copy of a cell phone video taken. Upon review of the content of the cell phone video and the involved officer's body worn video, the supervisor notified his commanding officer and investigators of the Internal Affairs Group responded to conduct a personnel complaint investigation."
The video shows a male officer suddenly throwing a flurry of punches at a man whose hands had been placed behind his back but not handcuffed. A second officer appeared to have been caught by surprise and moves back but later is seen in the video placing his or her hand on the first officer as he winds up to strike the man again.
The detained individual was eventually released and a formal complaint investigation was launched by Internal Affairs Group, according to LAPD.
LAPD Chief Michel Moore ordered the use of force by the officer be investigated by the department's Force Investigation Division, LAPD said.
"The LAPD closely scrutinizes all uses of force, as we hold every officer to our high standards. While we are withholding judgement on the actions of the involved officer at this time, the officer has been assigned home pending further investigation," said LAPD.
LAPD notified the L.A. County District Attorney's Office, the Office of the Inspector General, and the Justice System Integrity Division who is monitoring the investigation.
Leo Terrell, an attorney, watched the cell phone video Tuesday.
"The suspect did not retaliate. He did not hit the officer at any time during the video, and the most telling aspect of this video is the other officer did not get involved," said Terrell. "Even if the suspect was saying bad words, being profane, that does not give the officer the right to use force. It was clear to me that this officer lost control emotionally, mentally, and he was so engaged in the attack, he basically exhausted himself.
"97% of the officers are good officers. There's 2 or 3 percent that are unfortunately rotten to the core. This officer unfortunately falls into that 2-3 percent but this is not an indictment against the LAPD, it's an indictment against a couple bad officers who happen to go rogue. If he's [the officer involved] not appropriately punished, not just administratively, but from a District Attorney criminal standpoint, it sends a mixed message to the public," said Terrell.
Chief Moore issued a statement via Twitter saying "Over the past several days there have been incidents reported in the news that are clearly not consistent with the core values of the Los Angeles Police Department. My pledge to you, is that when these instances occur and we fall short of your expectations there will be a thorough investigation. I intend to take a clear-eyed view and hold individuals accountable for behavior that is inconsistent with the high standards of this organization."
FOX 11 reporter Koco McAboy contributed to this story