A Los Angeles police officer was charged on Monday with assault for his part in the videotaped arrest of a black man who contends he was kicked so hard he lost a tooth filling.
The charge the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office brought against Officer Richard Garcia, 34, stems from an Oct. 16 arrest that has already resulted in a federal lawsuit against the city.
The filing of the criminal charge against the officer follows a series of deaths of African-Americans at the hands of police that have raised questions about race relations in the United States and the use of force by law enforcement.
In the latest high-profile incident, Baltimore police vowed on Monday to probe the death of a black man who suffered spinal injuries after white officers arrested him.
Garcia, who was removed from field duty by supervisors following the arrest, faces up to three years in jail if convicted of assault by a public officer.
He pleaded not guilty to the charge during an appearance in court on Monday, according to City News Service. Earlier in the day, he turned himself in to officers to be taken into custody, said Los Angeles police spokesman Lieutenant John Jenal.
In the October arrest, police approached Clinton Alford Jr. because he matched the description of a robbery suspect, and he ran away from them, the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office said in a statement.
Alford surrendered after a foot pursuit, but Garcia assaulted him as he lay prone on the ground, prosecutors said.
Attorneys for Alford, in the federal civil rights lawsuit filed in November, said he was “kicked so hard that the force of the kick extracted a filling out of a tooth causing nerve damage and knocking him unconscious.”
Alford, who according to media reports was 22 years old at the time of his arrest, was initially charged with possession of rock cocaine and resisting arrest but the charges were later dismissed.
Authorities have surveillance video of the arrest, but they have not publicly released it, Jenal said.
The Los Angeles Police Department said in a statement it worked with the District Attorney’s Office ahead of the filing of charges, and that the department’s own investigation into the arrest continues.
(Reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis; Editing by Mohammad Zargham)
Watch a report on the charges filed against Garcia, as aired on KTLA-TV on Monday, below.