A video showing a Cathedral City police officer hitting a suspect with a baton during an arrest is going viral on social media, two years after it happened.
The video, seemingly first posted on Reddit, starts by showing two officers with weapons pointed at a suspect, who is in his car with hands raised. A third officer comes into frame on the other side of the car. The first two officers pull the suspect out of his car and shove him to the ground, then the third officer jumps over the front of the car to reach the suspect and starts striking him repeatedly with what appears to be a baton.
City Manager Charlie McClendon released a statement Monday, stating the incident was investigated by the police department's internal affairs division and that the use of force was reported to the California Department of Justice in February 2021 "as required by Senate Bill 1421."
SB1421 is a California law that requires law enforcement agencies to report and release records pertaining to certain instances of police use of force, dishonesty or sexual harassment. McClendon's statement referred to the officer who used force as a "former" officer, but did not say when he left the city or why.
The Desert Sun obtained a summary of the incident when inquiring about such records as a normal practice. In December 2020, Cathedral City police Sgt. Jon Enos reported that a confrontation happened at the conclusion of a pursuit around 3:15 a.m. on Nov. 21, 2020. It happened at San Antonio and San Jose drives in Cathedral City.
Enos said the suspect, Jose Lenor Garcia, was injured and taken to the hospital for treatment.
Enos said Garcia was "injured while he was being taken into custody by officers," and described the officer's actions as "non-lethal." He stated that Garcia was arrested and posted bail.
The second half of the Reddit video shows the same incident, but from what appears to be the perspective of officers' body-worn cameras. The poster wrote in comments online that they obtained the footage through public-records requests.
In the statement Monday, McClendon said he could not discuss details of the investigation due to it being a personnel matter. The Riverside County District Attorney's Public Integrity Unit is also reviewing the incident, he added.
"The city takes all use of force incidents very seriously and each one is investigated immediately by internal affairs and other state agencies as required by law," McClendon said. "We are always proactive in these cases and public safety continues to be a top priority for our city council to ensure a high quality of life for our residents."
Ani Gasparyan covers the western Coachella Valley cities of Desert Hot Springs and Cathedral City. Reach her at email@example.com.
Christopher Damien covers public safety and the criminal justice system. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him at @chris_a_damien.
This article originally appeared on Palm Springs Desert Sun: Viral video shows Cathedral City police officer hitting suspect with baton