Earlier this week, footage was released showing a Los Angeles police officer repeatedly beating a homeless man during an arrest made in the Boyle Heights are of the city. The suspect had been living in a tent next to the church. In the video, he made no attempt to fight back.
Officers were responding to a trespassing call and ordered the man to leave the property near the Church of God Prophecy. While detaining the individual in question, the responding male officer, Frank Hernandez, told the man to “stop fighting”. In the video, it’s clear that the suspect is not resisting, has his hands behind his back, and is standing stationary on the sidewalk.
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“Ain’t nobody fighting,” the suspect responds. That’s when the officer begins pummeling him.
During the beating, the suspect makes no attempt to fight back and merely works to defend his head from the blows.
The female officer on scene seemed shocked and confused by her colleagues behavior and repeatedly makes moves to intervene but never successfully stops his until the very end of the video.
During heightened tension between police and the public, with many arrests related to the ongoing isolation and social distancing orders in place throughout the country, some are wondering whether the police are taking things a bit too far with their newfound authority.
Since the incident first occurred, sources with the LAPD have confirmed to local news affiliate KTLA that the arresting officer has been involved in three on-duty shootings during his career.
The Los Angeles Times was able to reach the attorney representing the officer involved in the incident:
David Winslow, the officer’s attorney, described him as a 20-year LAPD veteran but declined to identify him. Winslow said the suspect had been living in a tent in a lot adjacent to the church. An LAPD spokesman could not say if the suspect was homeless.
Winslow argued that prior to the footage that has been widely shared, the suspect was aggressive toward the police when they asked if he would consent to a search. During the initial search, the suspect allegedly struck the officer in the chest, knocking his body-worn camera to the ground, Winslow said.
The officer then ordered the man to turn back toward the fence, according to Winslow, who said the man started “using profanity, calling the officer names … telling him he wasn’t going to cooperate.” The man then threatened to attack the officer and began to struggle, which led the officer to use physical force, Winslow said.
Ed Obayashi, a veteran Plumas County sheriff’s deputy and lawyer who trains officers statewide believed the video was extremely problematic.
“To say this looks bad is an understatement,” said Obayashi. “I don’t see any signs of resistance. The officer is just pissed off and very amped up. There is no sign the officer is responding properly. This officer is literally throwing haymakers.”
None of the claims made by the attorney are evident from what has been released in the recording.