A federal magistrate ordered the Los Angeles Police Department on Monday to give an attorney video footage that she says shows her client being assaulted by an LAPD officer in South L.A.
Clinton Alford, the man being struck in the video, is suing the department, its chief and officers for violating his civil rights. He says he was riding his bicycle on the sidewalk along Avalon Boulevard near 55th Street last October when officers attacked him.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Alicia G. Rosenberg directed the department to turn over footage from a security camera to Alford's attorney, Caree Harper. Prosecutors last week charged Officer Richard Garcia with assaulting Alford under color of authority.
“Today a judge validated my client’s right to have a copy of the raw video footage of the brutal beating that included him being kicked and hit by members of the Los Angeles Police Department’s Newton Division," Harper said. “I said six months ago that if Chief [Charlie] Beck were sincere about transparency he would have released the video then. He wouldn’t have made me compel the production of evidence showing what was done to my client.”
Under the order, Harper can pick up the video Wednesday. She said she will have a forensic expert on hand to examine it. A prior order forbids the public release of the video.
Police officials who saw the video of the arrest described it as disturbing in earlier interviews with The Times. The sources said the video showed an officer kicking or stomping on Alford, and later hitting him repeatedly with his elbows in the head and upper body. Garcia has pleaded not guilty to the criminal charge.
Beck last week acknowledged the public interest in viewing the footage of the Oct. 16 incident, but he said Los Angeles County Dist. Atty. Jackie Lacey "has been very, very clear that she does not want that video out there." Releasing the footage before the officer's trial, Beck said, could taint the jury pool or "otherwise interfere" with the case.
"My desire here is justice," Beck told reporters. "I know that there are other things that could be met by the release of the video.... But I want to get justice. And I think that's what this city deserves."
Last week, Beck said that after watching the video, he called Lacey and asked her office "to not only look at this case but to file criminal charges....I was shocked by the content of the video."
Garcia, who has been with the LAPD for a decade, has not worked in the field since the October incident.
Three other officers and a sergeant who were also involved in the arrest remain out of the field and assigned to their homes, pending ongoing internal affairs investigations by the LAPD. Beck declined to discuss the actions of the other officers but said they were "not nearly as culpable as Garcia."
Times staff writer Kate Mather contributed to this report.
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