Boyle Heights -- The LAPD on Tuesday released what it describes as "disturbing" bodycam videos of an officer beating and punching an unarmed homeless man suspected of trespassing.
The department's version of events comes after a cell phone video posted on Twitter triggered widespread outrage about excessive use of force by police.
"I along with many of you watched a third-party video that was released last week, and I have serious concerns," said LAPD Chief Michel Moore in the introduction to the department's video summary of the incident. "Any use of force -- justified or not -- is difficult to watch. But this one is disturbing."
Two Hollenbeck Division officers responded to the 2400 block of Houston Street near a church on April 27, where they located a man trespassing on private property and directed him to leave.
During the investigation, a fight broke out between the suspect and one of the officers. The suspect had cuts to his head and face, but refused medical attention, according to a statement from the LAPD. The officer sustained a minor hand injury. A supervisor was called to the scene and a witness who had seen a portion of the fight gave the supervisor a copy of a cellphone video.
The department has not released the officer's name, but the L.A. Times has identified him as Frank Hernandez, who has been involved in a trio of officer-involved shootings.
An LAPD officer was under investigation for allegedly assaulting a trespassing suspect during an altercation that was caught on cellphone video, police announced on Monday night.
AGRO COP ASSAULTS NON VIOLENT FOO IN BOYLE HEIGHTS pic.twitter.com/VPeIpVG4YG— FOOS GONE WILD (@foosgonewild) May 5, 2020
A supervisor was called to the scene and a witness who had seen a portion of the fight gave the supervisor a copy of the cell phone video.
Attorneys for Richard Castillo, the man who was beaten, have sued the City of Los Angeles and members of its police force for allegedly using excessive force and spitting in his face during an altercation.
A spokesman for the City Attorney's Office said the office will review the lawsuit, but had no further comment.
Castillo, who said he has lived most of his life in the 2400 block of Houston Street and was raised two houses away from the vacant lot, alleges he was assaulted and held overnight in jail for no legal reason.
Castillo contends that the officers believed he was trespassing, but the owner of the vacant lot has long been aware of his presence on the property and has never told him to leave.
Similarly, for several years, members of an adjacent church, which sometimes uses the lot for parking, have also aware of his presence and have never instructed him to leave the premises, according to the complaint filed in Los Angeles federal court.
"As a member of the Boyle Heights community, plaintiff and his dog, Mamas, are well-known by the neighborhood, who has accepted (him) as one of their own," the suit says.
During the alleged assault, the officer who was hitting Castillo "intentionally and purposefully" spit in his face, according to the lawsuit. "Throughout the incident, plaintiff was terrified for his life, and was experiencing substantial pain and suffering."
The Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office and the police department's Office of the Inspector General will monitor the investigation.