The Long Beach Police Department is defending its beating of a man they claim was "combative" with officers Monday, justifying striking him with batons and using a Taser on him repeatedly for nearly 5 minutes.
Civilians caught the violent beating on camera and posted it to YouTube. The nearly five-minute clip shows officers surrounding Porfirio Santos-Lopez, 46, as he lies on his back in the street. When he doesn’t respond to the officers' request to roll over onto his stomach, he is hit at least six times with a police baton and Tasered over and over.
According to the Los Angeles Times, the Long Beach cops' beating
reportedly knocked Santos-Lopez's teeth out and broke his arm.
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Long Beach Police Sgt. Aaron Eaton admits that the video doesn’t look good but says it doesn’t capture the entire encounter.
"When you look at the initial video, it just doesn’t look good. It doesn’t look good from that perspective," Eaton told the Times. "As [officers] went to go contact him, he began to start to punch at them. The individual fell to the ground and began kicking at the officer. One officer had his baton kicked out of his hand, and later was kicked in the head by the suspect.
"The baton and the Taser are tools for us to use and get a combative subject into custody," Eaton said. "In this case, the suspect was adamant that he was not going to roll over onto his stomach."
The beating happened after officers responded to reports of an earlier fight between Santos-Lopez and two other men, which was caught on a liquor store's surveillance camera.
Santos-Lopez reportedly admitted to officers that he was drunk and high on methamphetamine at the time, according to NBC Los Angeles.
He was booked and charged with four unspecified counts — most likely for resisting arrest and battery — and taken to a local hospital.
Lee Ann Hernandez, Santos-Lopez's girlfriend, said he had been exhibiting signs of mental illness recently, becoming increasingly paranoid, hearing voices, and seeing people who weren’t there, according to the Times.
"He's not the one to go out and fight. His mind was probably agitated and he wasn’t himself," she said. "I keep telling the police he needs help, he needs help, he needs help and they wouldn't do anything. And they turn around and beat him for nothing. That's not right."
The beating is being investigated, and the four officers and one sergeant who were present remain on active duty, according to KABC.com.
Warning: Video contains strong language and violence.
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