California 'police brutality': Video appears to show officer punching woman on the floor

California Highway Patrol launches investigation after footage recorded by passer-by goes viral

The California Highway Patrol was last night facing a potential federal investigation into the circumstances that led to the “excessive and brutal” repeated punching of a prostrate and apparently unarmed black woman by a Patrol officer.

Police in California are investigating the incident which was recorded on a mobile phone. Civil rights groups and community activists demanded a federal probe. In the video, posted on YouTube and viewed by tens of thousands of people at the time of writing, the officer, reportedly since placed on “administrative leave”, was seen delivering several blows to the woman’s face on the side of a busy road.

The footage appeared to show the Highway Patrol officer stopping a woman on a busy Los Angeles motorway, before pinning her to the ground and punching her in the face. The woman seemed to be walking away from the officer before the confrontation.

Speaking to the television station ABC7, the Californian Highway Patrol said that the officer had ordered the woman to stop walking, out of fears for her safety. “A physical altercation ensued as the pedestrian continued to resist arrest, at which point a plain clothes, off duty officer assisted in applying the handcuffs.”

David Diaz, who filmed the incident from his car on Tuesday evening, told local television station CBSLA that the officer’s behaviour was “excessive and brutal”. He said: “If you look at the video, there are 15 hits. To the head, and not just simple jabs. These are blows to the head, really serious blows. I find it hard to believe there was no other remedy in this situation.”

Policing expert and Associate Professor in the School of Criminal Justice at Michigan State University, William Terrill, told The Independent on Sunday: “If the officer thought she had a gun, or if she had made a comment about having a gun or a bomb, then him being alone in that situation on the highway might justify that level of force. He had the right to restrain her but he certainly didn’t have the right to punch her in the face.”

He added: “It seems like there was a safety threat there but by law, the level of force has to be proportionate to the level of citizen resistance so in this case the resistance appears to be that she didn’t follow his verbal command to stop her. Unless she aggressively resisted, him attacking her in that way is unlawful.”

The video, which has since gone viral, is not the first of its kind to seemingly depict US police authorities restraining women with blows to the face. In July 2012, Fox News obtained mobile phone footage in which two police officers in San Antonio appeared to be beating a pregnant woman.

Professor Terrill, who is also a former military police officer, said: “The more accountability from capturing these things on audio or video, the better. I think it shows that the type of force which is used needs to be put into proper scope and if that’s captured on video, that puts officers on alert: they have to abide by the law.”

The incident is the latest in which police officers in Los Angeles have faced accusations of excessive force.

Earlier this year David Cunningham, a black American judge, filed a $10 million claim alleging racial profiling and excessive force after he was handcuffed and put into a police car when he was stopped for not wearing a seat belt.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
News
The 67P/CG comet as seen from the Philae lander
scienceThe most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Arts and Entertainment
Ian McKellen as Gandalf in The Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies
film
Sport
football
Arts and Entertainment
Sarah Koenig, creator of popular podcast Serial, which is to be broadcast by the BBC
tvReview: The secret to the programme's success is that it allows its audience to play detective
News
Ruby Wax has previously written about her mental health problems in her book Sane New World
people
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executives - OTE £60,000

£25000 - £60000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about Custom...

Recruitment Genius: Care Workers Required - The London Borough of Bromley

£15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This homecare agency is based in Beckenh...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executives - OTE £50,000

£25000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about Custom...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executives - OTE £50,000

£25000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about Custom...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas