A use of force investigation was underway Wednesday into a Los Angeles police sergeant’s arrest of a young woman who put her foot on the seat in front of her and refused to leave a Metro subway train when ordered to do so.
The confrontation, which was recorded and posted on social media, occurred at the Westlake/MacArthur Park station.
In the video, which was posted on Monday, the sergeant is seen gripping the 18-year-old woman’s arm and pulling her off the train as she complains and appears to resist. Witnesses can be heard protesting the sergeant’s behavior.
A second woman who was being detained after complaining about the first woman’s treatment was herself arrested for allegedly spitting on an officer who was among several who responded to the sergeant’s call for backup.
Officer Drake Madison of the LAPD’s Media Relations office confirmed that a use of force investigation had been launched.
“I am extremely disappointed,” Metro CEO Phil Washington said in a statement posted on Metro’s website.
“Our riders deserve better,” Washington said. “We want the Metro system to be a safe environment for everyone. I expect more from our law enforcement partners. This incident is still under investigation, but I want to be clear: this is not the kind of policing I want on our system.”
The Metro system is patrolled by a multi-agency partnership that includes the LAPD, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, and the Long Beach Police Department, in addition to Metro’s own security personnel.
LAPD Chief Charlie Beck said, however, there should not be a rush to judgment based on the video.
“What I would ask everybody is, let’s all be civil in our interactions, you know?” Beck said during an appearance on ABC7. “I’m not going to pre-judge this. Obviously there’s things of concern in the video, but I will tell you this, the sergeant involved in this is a 20-plus-year veteran with almost no use-of-force history. And we owe him an unbiased investigation that is more than just watching a snippet of video and making a judgment.
“And I will also tell you that during this incident he was spit on — not by that young lady but another,” he said. “Let’s all be civil. If an officer asks you to do something, please do it. And to my officers also, let’s be reasonable about the force you use.”
—City News Service