Westminster police Thursday reported an officer seen on smart phone video punching a handcuffed suspect has been placed on administrative leave.
Police were called about 4 p.m. Wednesday to the 14100 block of Locust Street after a woman was accused of assaulting another woman trying to rescue a dog running down the street, Westminster Commander Alan Iwashita said.
The victim was Asian, but the suspect has not been booked on suspicion of a hate crime because it is not clear if the attack was racially motivated, Iwashita said. The investigation was ongoing.
The suspect — 34-year-old Ciomara Garcia of Westminster — had an outstanding warrant for vandalism, he said. Police handcuffed her and were awaiting paramedics because she appeared to be intoxicated.
Garcia grew “combative” with officers and while trying to restrain her, one of three officers punched her twice, prompting his partners on the scene to restrain him and “deescalate” the situation, Iwashita said.
A resident who took video of the incident provided it to police, prompting officials to place the officer on paid administrative leave during an Internal Affairs investigation, he said. The Orange County District Attorney’s Office will investigate the excessive use-of-force allegation.
Garcia was booked for assault and battery on the other woman, being under the influence of a drug, resisting arrest and assault on a police officer, Iwashita said.
Police were “well aware” of the cell phone video shared on social media and wanted to assure the public the department was taking the matter seriously, Iwashita said.