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Video shows San Diego police officers punching man during arrest

san diego police la jolla arrest 05122021.jpg
Posted at 11:21 AM, May 14, 2021

SAN DIEGO, Calif. — The San Diego Police Department is investigating a takedown arrest involving two officers and an apparent homeless man.

Nicole Bansal took the video at the intersection of the La Jolla Village Drive and Torrey Pines Road around 9 a.m. Wednesday.

"I was pulling up to the intersection, a cop car came up fast behind me, two men — cops — jumped out of the car and immediately went towards this unhoused homeless man," she said. "The immediate reaction for cops to start trying to arrest him or take him down. It's just shocking. That's why I immediately pulled out my phone and started recording."

The video clip, which lasts four minutes and 15 seconds, begins after the initial encounter with police and the homeless man. While the circumstances leading up to the start of the video are unclear, the video starts with one officer's hands on the man. The situation escalates as the other officer moves towards the man, and the officers take him down.

An officer is then seen taking blows at the man while he is on the ground.

The video would continue for approximately two and a half minutes, with the officers seen throwing punches on more than one occasion before other officers arrive on the scene. An ambulance also arrives on the scene.

The man being arrested in the video is African American and is said to be a homeless man in the area. Francine Maxwell, the NAACP San Diego Branch President, says the video was sent to them and is concerning.

"Those officers with those extra blows when they take him down were excessive to me," Maxwell said. "An African American man, walking barefoot, I don't think, is that much of a threat. You're not in danger of him."

Maxwell added that she'd like to see the incident reviewed by independent agencies.

The San Diego Police Department released the following statement:

"The department is aware of the cell phone video. This morning around 9 a.m., two San Diego Police officers on patrol in the 4100 block of Torrey Pines Road witnessed a man urinating in public. From a distance, the officers tried to talk to the man. The officers decided to approach the man because urinating in public violates the law. The man would not stop to speak with officers therefore an officer held the man to detain him. Despite the officers repeatedly telling the man to 'stop resisting,' the man would not comply. One of the officers struck the man several times. The man was taken into custody and transported to the hospital. The man was released and booked into County Jail for resisting arrest and battery on a police officer. The Internal Affairs Unit is currently investigating the incident and reviewing Body-Worn Camera (BWC) video."

In response to the video, Deacon Jim Vargas, president and CEO at Father Joe’s Villages, said the incident shows a better response is needed:

"While the circumstances of this incident are not yet clear, we at Father Joe’s Villages are deeply troubled by this video. It is a clear illustration of several broken systems and a stark and distressing reminder of the insufficient resources available to those on our streets.

From the failure to provide the basic dignity of public restrooms to the urgent need for a more compassionate, effective, and comprehensive response to those suffering from mental illness, San Diego can and must do better. In the meantime, this individual and thousands of others experiencing homelessness are paying the price. We trust that a thorough investigation of this incident will be conducted and we will look to see the results."

This story was originally published by Anthony Pura at KGTV.