A Los Angeles police officer has been suspended and is under investigation after video from a private security camera showed him reportedly beating a subdued suspect and kicking him in the head while he was on the ground.
According to the LA Times, one police official who has seen the video said the kick looked like “a football player kicking a field goal.” Another official called it “horrific.”
Three other officers involved in the arrest — as well as a sergeant who arrived on the scene afterward — have been taken off active duty while the LAPD investigates the incident.
The suspect, identified as Clinton Alford, 22, sustained a gash on his ear and was taken to a hospital for stitches and a head scan following his arrest.
Alford was booked on suspicion of drug possession and resisting arrest and later released on his own recognizance after pleading not guilty.
Police authorities stated that Alford was stopped by the officers who were responding to a detective’s radio call for help in locating a robbery suspect.
It was later ascertained that Alford was not the robbery suspect they were seeking.
According to Alford, he was riding his bike when a car pulled up behind him and he was commanded to stop. Alford said the speaker never identified himself as a police officer and when his bike was grabbed from behind, he jumped off and ran. After a brief pursuit, Alford was taken into custody by two officers and can be seen in the video voluntarily dropping to the ground and placing his hands behind his back.
Moments later another officer arrived and reportedly rushed at the prone Alford either stomping or kicking him in the head. The officer then repeatedly struck Alford in the head with his elbows while the other two officers held him down.
According to Alford, “I was just praying that they wouldn’t kill me. I just closed my eyes and tried to hold on.”
One of the sources who saw the video described Alford looking like “a rag doll,” as officer hauled him away.
According to the arrest record, the officers at the scene were identified as Julio Cortez, Joshua Tornek, Ruben Rosas, and Richard Garcia, with Garcia identified as the officer who administered the beating.
LA police Chief Charlie Beck issued a statement saying he was, “extremely concerned about this particular use of force.”
“This investigation is ongoing, and there is still much that needs to be done to determine the facts of this matter, but let me be very clear, any officer that is found to abuse the public is not welcome in this department, and we will apply whatever legal or administrative means necessary to insure the community’s trust without exception,” Beck said.
Authorities are also looking to allegations that Garcia may have attempted to acquire the private security camera video after the altercation. According to the video, the officer can seen looking up at the security camera and then accessing the building.
An attorney for Garcia confirmed that the Alford was kicked, but said the blow landed on his shoulder. He said the officers used appropriate force on the suspect while trying to handcuff him.