Westminster police officer put on leave after video shows him punching detained woman
A Westminster police officer has been placed on leave after cellphone video captured him punching a handcuffed woman twice in the face.
In a press release Thursday, the Westminster Police Department said that about 4 p.m. Wednesday, officers were sent to the 14100 block of Locust Street following a call about a woman who had assaulted another woman who had tried to rescue a dog.
Officials at the scene identified Ciomara Garcia, 34, as the suspect, police said. They detained Garcia, who the department said had shown signs of being under the influence and already had an outstanding bench warrant for vandalism.
Footage shows Garcia on the ground and being held down by two officers when one of them punched her twice in the face. The other officer, as well as a third officer standing nearby, immediately attempted to push the one that had used force away from Garcia.
The department said that the officer who had punched Garcia had been trying to subdue her after she had become “combative” while handcuffed and waiting for paramedics to arrive. Garcia was evaluated at a hospital but no injuries were reported.
She was booked on the outstanding warrant for vandalism, according to department spokesman Cmdr. Alan Iwashita. The department said it would recommend criminal charges of assault and battery, being under the influence of a controlled substance, resisting arrest, and assault on a police officer to the Orange County district attorney’s office.
Iwashita said that the woman Garcia allegedly assaulted was Asian but that it was still unknown if the attack was racially motivated. It wasn’t immediately clear who was representing Garcia.
He said the department would not be releasing more information about the officer, who was placed on administrative leave Wednesday pending an internal affairs investigation. The department said it is in touch with the district attorney’s office, which will determine whether to press charges.
“The Westminster Police Department considers this a serious event and will ensure that this investigation will be guided by the law and the truth,” officials said.
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