A use-of-force investigation was underway Wednesday after video surfaced on social media of two Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies from the Santa Clarita Valley Station struggling to take a man into custody on suspicion of package theft.
The incident occurred about 6:20 p.m. Tuesday near Jakes Way and Danielson Street, according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.
Santa Clarita Valley Station deputies were sent to the neighborhood on a call of a package theft, the sheriff’s department reported.
“As they neared the location, they encountered a man walking with a package,” according to a sheriff’s department statement. “The man told deputies the package did not belong to him. The deputies attempted to detain the man regarding a theft investigation.
“The man became uncooperative and a use of force occurred,” the statement said. “It was later determined (that) the man was wanted in connection with an armed robbery of a U.S. Postal (Service) carrier approximately one hour earlier, in which a handgun was simulated. The postal carrier positively identified the suspect.”
The suspect was booked at Santa Clarita Valley Station on suspicion of robbery and assault on a peace officer. His name was not immediately released. The deputies and suspect received moderate injuries, but did not require hospitalization, the sheriff’s department reported.
The video on social media opens with the man above a deputy on the ground, then a second deputy pulls the man off by using a neck hold. The second deputy moves on top of the man and both deputies struggle to subdue him.
About 20 seconds pass and deputies appear to have control of the man when he begins kicking and temporarily breaks free of the deputies’ hold. A vehicle pulls up and blocks the view of the struggle and the video ends.
Sheriff Alex Villanueva conceded that the arrest involved “a very violent use of force,” but he warned against drawing conclusions based on the video.
“I know there’s a video circulating around out there, it’s getting some traction,” he said. “But it’s kind of jumbly, and it doesn’t show that much of the incident. It obviously only shows it toward the end when the deputies are trying to get control but the subject is still struggling.”
He said anyone who watches the video should do so with the sound turned off.
“You get more information out of it than hearing people trying to narrate what they’re not actually seeing,” he said.
Anyone who witnessed the incident was asked to contact the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station at 661-255-1121.