LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — Police Chief Charlie Beck said Tuesday he believes an officer charged with using excessive force during an October arrest committed a “criminal act,” and he personally urged the district attorney to file charges.
“I was shocked by the content of the video,” Beck said of the surveillance footage of the Oct. 16 arrest of 22-year-old Clinton Alford Jr. near 55th Street and South Avalon Boulevard.
Officer Richard Garcia, 34, was charged Monday with assault under color of authority. He pleaded not guilty Monday afternoon and is scheduled to return to court June 1, when a date is expected to be set for a hearing to determine if there is sufficient evidence to go to trial.
Plainclothes officers stopped Alford, who was on a bike, because he matched the description of a robbery suspect. After initially fleeing the officers, Alford surrendered. Alford’s attorney, Caree Harper, says Alford was prone on the ground with his hands behind his head when Garcia kicked and stomped on him, then repeatedly struck him in the head and body.
Beck said that after he saw video of the arrest, he “immediately ensured that the officers were sent home.”
The chief said he “contacted personally the district attorney and expressed my desire for her folks to not only look at this case but to file criminal charges.”
Garcia has not been fired by the department, which is allowing the criminal case to move forward.
“We have to keep in mind that the ultimate goal is justice here,” Beck said. “And we want the justice system to be able to address this use of force, which I believe is a criminal act.”
All of the officers involved in the arrest were placed on paid administrative leave.
The Los Angeles Police Protective League, the union that represents LAPD officers, issued a statement saying, “While we certainly share Chief Beck’s concern about the incident, we owe it to all parties involved to let the judicial system run its course so that all facts can be considered before judgment is made.”
Alford has already filed a lawsuit against the city over the arrest, and recently accused police of harassing him ever since he filed the case.
According to Harper, prosecutors dropped all charges against Alford. Harper has also been pushing Beck to release the video of the arrest in the name of transparency.
Garcia faces up to three years in jail if convicted, prosecutors said.