A San Diego police officer can be seen punching a U.S. Marine Corps member who was lying on the ground, then saying he did so out of self-defense, KGTV-TV reported.
“Sir, I’m the one that punched you in the face,” the officer, identified as Sgt. Patrick Vinson, tells Lance Cpl. Robert Reginato. “The reason I hit you in the face is because you attacked us.”
The footage, taken from an unidentified officer’s body camera, was released by Reginato’s attorney, Paul Neuharth. Reginato and Cpl. Gabriel Talley, who is also represented by Neuharth, are accused of attacking officers early on Sept. 21 outside a local bar. Seconds before Vinson identifies himself, another officer can be heard telling him, “Sarge, Sarge, Sarge. No punching, Sarge!”
But Neuharth said it was police who started the brawl, and that his two clients were trying to help a man left unconscious after a separate fight when the officers pushed them away.
“This Marine had tears running down his cheeks in my office when he first came in,” Neuharth told KGTV. “He said, ‘You know, my friend just got back from Afghanistan, we’re celebrating my 21st birthday, how could something like this happen to me in the United States?'”
Police reports said the two Marines were “hitting, grabbing, pushing, struggling and violently resisting” the officers during the incident.
KNSD-TV reported that, according to investigators, Reginato “forcibly grabbed an officer to free his friend from police. When an officer attempted to arrest him, he resisted. The only way he was taken into custody is after the sergeant punched him several times in the face.”
The San Diego District Attorney’s office said in a statement that it intends to move forward with the case.
“We can only file criminal charges when we believe we can prove them beyond a reasonable doubt, as we do in this case,” the statement read.
Watch KGTV’s report, as posted online, below.
[h/t The Free Thought Project]