Police in El Centro are investigating a video that shows officers using force on a suspect they say stole a car and led authorities on a chase before striking a parked car and trying to run away.
Officers initially responded to a call of a stolen vehicle around 9:30 a.m. on Nov. 15. They couldn’t find the black Volkswagen at that time, police said, but around 3:30 p.m. officers received a report that a family member had spotted the car being driven near the 1700 block of Scott Avenue
Police said they located the vehicle in the area and attempted to pull it over. But the driver, identified as Elizardo Saenz, 23, didn’t stop, authorities said.
During the ensuing pursuit, Saenz “drove through crowded parking lots at unsafe speeds before driving against traffic,” police said. Several cars had to pull off the street to avoid being hit, authorities said.
During the chase, Saenz hit a parked car, struck the curb and stopped on the sidewalk, authorities said. Police said they then chased Saenz as he ran from the car toward the back of a local business.
The video, shot by a bystander, shows officers repeatedly striking Saenz with their batons while a police dog attacks from the side.
“You guys are … ridiculous,” the man shooting the video says. “Oh, my God … seriously?”
Saenz can be heard screaming in the background.
Police called Saenz “physically combative” and said they were aware of the video. The footage shows “merely a portion of these events,” authorities said.
Members of the community have posted comments critical of the incident on the El Centro Police Department’s Facebook page.
Saenz was treated for a dog bite, police said.
He was booked at the Imperial County Jail and is being charged with felony possession of stolen property, felony evading with wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property, misdemeanor hit and run and misdemeanor resisting arrest.
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