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L.A. police accused of excessive force in arrest of mentally ill man

Los Angeles police are accused of repeatedly using excessive force against a mentally ill homeless man

Los Angeles police are investigating the August arrest of a mentally ill homeless man who was hospitalized after officers forcefully took him into custody on the Venice boardwalk, officials said.

Samuel Arrington, 52, contends officers have repeatedly used excessive force on him in recent years. Police records show Arrington was arrested four times over the last two years, including during three incidents in which officers used some type of force because, they said, he was resisting.

In the latest arrest, which was captured on video, one officer used a Taser four times as police tried to subdue Arrington, according to a police report obtained by The Times on Friday. One officer said he saw another strike Arrington twice in the head with a closed fist.

Arrington's attorney wrote a letter to the U.S. Department of Justice this week, calling for an investigation into what he described as a pattern of "criminal police misconduct" toward his client. Attorney Nazareth Haysbert told The Times that the officers who arrested Arrington on Aug. 7 knew his client was mentally ill and should have called for mental health specialists.

"They are using unjustified and unnecessary force," Haysbert said.

The Los Angeles Police Department said it had opened an internal affairs investigation into the August arrest, along with the standard use of force inquiry. The department declined to comment further, citing pending litigation.

"As we have shown, if it is found that officers used excessive force we will take appropriate action," LAPD Chief Charlie Beck said.

Police initially approached Arrington that August afternoon and warned him he was violating several boardwalk ordinances, according to the police report. Two officers gave him a verbal warning, then walked away.

When officers returned about 45 minutes later, they told Arrington they were going to cite him, the report says. One of the officers, Daniel Ramirez, recognized Arrington as a man who had resisted arrest when he took him into custody the previous month, the report said, and alerted another officer.

Video shot on a bystander's cellphone shows two officers asking Arrington, who is sitting in a chair, to sign the citation, telling him they would arrest him if he refused. "I will not," Arrington says in the video.

The video then shows the officers moving in to take Arrington into custody, holding him by the arms while pulling his chair away. At least four officers bring him to the ground. The sound of a Taser can be heard multiple times.

The officers eventually restrain Arrington's hands and feet, then carry him from the scene.

The police report states that one officer saw Ramirez hit Arrington twice in the head with his fist. Ramirez did not respond to a request for comment Friday. According to the report, Ramirez said Arrington was trying to grab another officer's holstered pistol.

richard.winton@latimes.com

kate.mather@latimes.com

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