A group of California police officers kicked and punched a teen shoplifting suspect in the face, troubling new video shows.
The footage, shot Saturday at the Glendale Galleria mall, shows uniformed and plain-clothed cops viciously pouncing on a 17-year-old teen suspected of theft inside a Dick’s Sporting Goods store.
The audible blows to the suspect’s face prompted gasps from witnesses inside the store. Three of the four Glendale cops atop the suspect, who did not appear to be resisting, punched or kicked him in the face, the clip shows.
“Turn around on your face!” one officer yells. “It’s the police department, we told you!”
The four officers involved in the incident are now on administrative leave, department officials said Wednesday.
“Glendale police officers are held to a high standard and we work hard to maintain the trust of our community,” police said in a statement. “We take these types of incidents very seriously. Appropriate actions will be taken following the investigation.”
Stolen merchandise was recovered from the suspect, who was charged with petty theft and resisting an officer by force, police said in a second statement Wednesday.
Investigators are now asking for additional witnesses to come forward or to provide other video of the arrest.
The teen suspect’s sister said she can’t get the footage out of her head.
“It was really hard to watch,” Melissa Navarette told CBS Los Angeles. “We got traumatized. We still have, like, all of the video stuck in our head.”
A man who recorded the arrest on his cellphone told the station the uniformed officer who kicked the teen in the face did so immediately upon arriving at the store.
“The officer that wasn’t even there to begin with, that ran up on this situation, and as soon as he arrived, he just decided I’m going to kick this kid in the face,” the witness told CBS Los Angeles.
The teen, who was not publicly identified, reportedly had injuries to his eye and head following the encounter with Glendale cops.
Attorney and civil rights activist Connie Rice said the officers’ conduct clearly violated department training.
“This is worse than a rough arrest,” Rice told the station. “I’ve seen better tactics and discipline in a barroom brawl. Apparently, he does not have a weapon. So, he’s not posing any kind of imminent threat of lethal force or bodily injury to anyone around him.”