An internal sheriff's department review of accusations of excessive force will continue today after a short video clip surfaced Tuesday appearing to show deputies in Vista manhandling two restrained suspects. The 22-second video clip posted by Facebook user Ashley Tovar shows six San Diego County Sheriff's Department deputies arresting two men who appear to be Latino.
As two deputies walk with one of the men who is handcuffed, one of the deputies appears to force the man toward a wooden fence before slamming his head into the fence. Seconds later, a deputy appears to repeatedly strike a man who is lying face down on a concrete sidewalk with two deputies restraining him. It is unclear if the suspect on the ground is handcuffed, but the video shows what looks like a sudden burst of movement from the suspect and both deputies. One of the deputies restraining the man then pushes his face and head roughly into the ground before striking him three times. It's unclear if he uses an open hand or closed fist while striking the restrained man.
The sheriff's department issued a statement Tuesday saying that as soon as officials became aware of the video, they launched an internal investigation. "What we can say is the deputies were responding to a domestic-violence call where the suspect was wielding a weapon and holding someone against their will," a sheriff's official told the San Diego Union-Tribune. "During the subsequent arrest, the parties in the video fought with deputies and this is a small portion of a much larger incident. While we are not condoning or condemning the actions of anyone at this point, we are taking this matter seriously and will address any outcomes accordingly."
The video was posted to Facebook at 8:51a.m. Tuesday and had garnered more than 77,000 views in a little less than 24 hours. Local civil rights leader Rev. Shane Harris, president of the San Diego chapter of the National Action Network, planned to hold a news conference Wednesday morning to question the sheriff's department about its response.
"Reverend Harris will call on the San Diego County Sheriff's Department to release body camera footage of the full incident,'' the organization said in a statement. Sheriff's officials told the Union-Tribune that they would review body-camera footage as part of the review, though that footage is rarely released publicly.
The incident comes on the heels of a similar excessive-force claim in Florida, where a citizen's video captured a Miami police officer kicking at the head of a restrained and handcuffed suspect who was lying on the ground. Body-camera footage released by the Miami police department in that incident showed the officer actually kicked so hard at the suspect's head that he missed his apparent target, but he was still charged Tuesday with misdemeanor assault.
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