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L.A. Now Live: Video shows Long Beach police striking a suspect

September 05, 2013
  • A video posted to YouTube showing Long Beach police repeatedly using a Taser and baton on a man has prompted an internal investigation amid questions about the officers' use of force.
A video posted to YouTube showing Long Beach police repeatedly using a Taser… (BeachBoiLBC / YouTube )

Discuss the violent arrest of a Long Beach man at 9 a.m. with Times reporters Kate Mather and Ruben Vives.

A video posted to YouTube showing Long Beach police repeatedly using a Taser and baton on Porfirio Santos-Lopez prompted an internal investigation and raised questions about the officers' actions.

The incident unfolded about 6 p.m. Monday, when officers were called to Locust Avenue and South Street after receiving multiple 911 calls about a fight outside a liquor store, Long Beach Police Sgt. Aaron Eaton said.

Surveillance footage showed a man later identified by police as Santos-Lopez, 46, hitting another man in the head.

Officers approached Santos-Lopez, who shouted back at police and asked them to kill him, Eaton said. Video shows officers approaching Santos-Lopez, who falls to the ground after apparently being Tasered.

The video then shows two officers hitting him at least six times with batons.

The video posted to YouTube — taken by a witness — begins a short time later, and depicts another round of baton strikes. Santos-Lopez is seen lying on his back as one officer hits him six times in the legs, with Santos-Lopez sometimes kicking between blows. A Taser can be heard, although it is not clear exactly how many times it was used.

At one point, the officers can be heard commanding Santos-Lopez to "roll over," with the man responding "Why?" But most of what the officers and Santos-Lopez say is unclear.

Police training experts who reviewed the 41/2-minute recording were divided about whether it amounted to excessive force. Long Beach Police Chief Jim McDonnell said he understands that there is community concern about the video and vowed a vigorous investigation.

"It is too early to make any judgments.…the YouTube video is certainly disturbing," the chief said. "Any time you see someone hit with the baton, there is level of discomfort."

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