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Huntington Park woman was punched by a police officer as her home burned

An image from video shows a police officer with a fist raised toward a person's face.
Adriana Hernandez, second from right, is punched by a Huntington Park Police officer during a Fourth of July house fire.
(Adriana Hernandez)
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A young woman was punched and arrested by Huntington Park police officers on the Fourth of July while a fire ripped through the apartment she shared with her parents.

(Video courtesy of Adriana Hernandez)

Adriana Hernandez, 27, told ABC7 that the incident occurred when a garage fire spread to the family’s apartment. Hernandez could not be reached immediately for comment.

The Los Angeles County Fire Department said firefighters responded at 9:33 p.m. to a call about a structure fire in the 6400 block of Templeton Street. The fire also prompted a response from the Huntington Park Police Department.

Hernandez told the station that she was attempting to reach her father, who was trying to save the photography equipment he needed for his job from the burning building, but she was held back by a policewoman. During a short scuffle, the same police officer punched her in the face.

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Household objects stand outside a burned building with apartments over garages.
Adriana Hernandez’ home after the fire.
(Adriana Hernandez)
A woman shows the right side of her neck.
Adriana Hernandez shows a dark area she said resulted from a Huntington Park Police officer’s punch.
(Adriana Hernandez)

“She did not care. She just grabbed me from my shirt, she literally ripped my rosary and started striking me in the face three times,” she told the station.

Officer Gonzalo Zendejas was charged with assault for kicking a teenager in the face during an arrest inside the Glendale Galleria Mall.

June 3, 2024

Cellphone video shows Hernandez calling out for her father in Spanish before she’s pushed back by a policewoman. Seconds later, the same officer punches Hernandez in the face.

Hernandez said she was taken into custody for resisting arrest.

The Police Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment, but in a statement sent to ABC7, it said that the incident was “under administrative review to determine the full facts and circumstances resulting in the use of force to ensure compliance with department policy.”

Adriana Hernandez shows a dark area where a Huntington Park Police officer punched her during a 4th of July 2024 house fire
Adriana Hernandez shows a dark area where a Huntington Park Police officer punched her during a 4th of July 2024 house fire, at her home in Huntington Park on Thursday, July 4, 2024.
(Adriana Hernandez)
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Hernandez said the incident was distressing.

“It just felt like everything was being taken away from me that fast and it wasn’t even my fault,” she told the station.

In a GoFundMe account, Hernandez said she is an only child juggling studies at East Los Angeles Community College and a job at In-N-Out that she took to help her parents. She said the fire, which she blamed on “outdated electrical wiring,” has left her family homeless.

Four people gather under an American flag in front of a residence.
Adriana Hernandez, right, and her family prior to the Fourth of July fire.
(Adriana Hernandez)

“Adding to our challenges, I was subjected to excessive force by a police officer, who unjustifiably struck me three times,” she wrote. The money raised would help the family “as we navigate homelessness,” she wrote, and help cover the loss of her father’s equipment.

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