Stockbyte/Thinkstock(LOS ANGELES) — A newly released video of an arrest made in October of 2014 by the Los Angeles Police Department depicts a police officer appearing to kick and punch a black man who seems to be surrendering.
In the three-minute video, several officers apprehend a man, Clinton Alford Jr., who is trying to evade capture. The officers bring him to the ground before another patrol car pulls up and Officer Richard Garcia gets out and runs toward Alford. Garcia appears to kick and elbow Alford Jr., and then appears to deliver several punches to his head, which is resting against the hard pavement. Later, as other officers move several feet away, Garcia appears to pin Alford to the ground by resting his knee along his spine.
The video, which was taken from a closed-caption surveillance camera on an adjacent factory, was used as evidence in the criminal case against Garcia. It was not released to the public until the Los Angeles Times obtained the footage by court action.
According to the Times, the LAPD refused to make the recording public for two years, even after prosecutors agreed to a plea deal that kept Garcia from doing jail time, provided that he “completes community service and donates $500 to a charity by late May of 2017.”
The LAPD has not yet provided a statement to ABC News on the video of Alford’s arrest, but said they will comment.
In a statement provided to the Times, an LAPD spokesman said that Garcia had been relieved of duty without pay, as of March of this year, and must appear before an internal disciplinary committee. The spokesperson told the Times that three other officers seen in the video are no longer with the department.
Peter Bibring, Director of Police Practices with the American Civil Liberties Union of California, told ABC News that the video “so clearly conveys what Garcia did,” which he said had previously been left to police reports.
“Videos like this don’t necessarily come as a surprise to many residents of Los Angeles,” Bibring said, referring to conflicts between the police and the city’s black community.
“What they can effectively do is let people who may not know about this sort of thing,” he said, “what this kind of experience is really like.”
Bibring said that the video calls into question whether the leniency Garcia received from his plea deal is indicative of the legal system “going soft on police officers.”
As the department incorporates body cameras, he said the ACLU is fighting for greater transparency around that footage, which is currently under the authority of the LAPD. He said that restricting public access to that footage “undercuts public trust.”
The footage from the Alford arrest comes from a private security camera.
The release of the Alford video comes on the heels of the release of a video earlier this month, published by ProPublica, appearing to show the last moments in the life of Vachel Howard, a 56-year-old black man who was in custody for driving while intoxicated in 2012 and may have suffered from schizophrenia, according to the publication.
In that video, Howard is in the jailhouse following what police say was a visit to the nurse where he became aggressive. He appears to be surrounded by LAPD officers and placed in a chokehold by Officer Juan Romero. Subsequently, he lies motionless on the floor. Less than an hour later, Howard was pronounced dead, ProPublica said.
A spokesperson for the LAPD declined ABC News’ request for comment on the video of the Howard incident. A police commission which investigated the incident found that the LAPD officer’s lethal use of force in applying the chokehold was “out of policy.”
The commission found that Romero’s “explanation of the unfolding events, the Subject’s resistance and his attempt to bite [him] did not constitute a threat that the officer’s life or the lives of others were in immediate peril,” in their report.
The City of Los Angeles settled with the family for $2.85 million in a wrongful death claim and Romero was suspended for 22 days.
These recent video footage cases have raised references to the Rodney King video from 1991, in which officers of the department appeared to beat King, following a high-speed car chase.
During the King arrest in 1991, a witness, George Holliday, videotaped much of the incident from his balcony and sent the footage to local news station KTLA-TV in Los Angeles.
Subsequently, it became one of the first widely-viewed recordings of police violence involving black residents and played a significant role in inspiring riots in the city a year later, following the acquittal of the officers involved.
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