SAN DIEGO — A video shot by a bystander shows San Diego police officers repeatedly punching a man in the face, head and leg after tackling him to the ground in the upscale neighborhood of La Jolla, the San Diego Union-Tribune reported Thursday.
Nicole Bansal told the newspaper she witnessed the arrest around 9 a.m. Wednesday and decided to record it with her cellphone.
“It’s so excessive and unnecessary,” Bansal told the newspaper.
San Diego Police Department spokesman Lt. Shawn Takeuchi said in a statement the officers saw the man urinating in public and asked him to stop.
One officer he said struck the man “several times” after he would not comply with orders.
“The man would not stop to speak with officers therefore an officer held the man to detain him,” Takeuchi said. “Despite the officers repeatedly telling the man to ‘stop resisting,’ the man would not comply. One of the officers struck the man several times.”
He said department officials are aware of the cellphone video and the internal affairs unit is investigating the incident, including reviewing body-worn camera footage.
In the video, an officer is seen tackling the man to the ground as another officer holds the man’s arm. The officer then punches him in the face repeatedly. Bansal, who was parked across the street, can be heard gasping and yelling, “Stop!”
The man can be seen yanking a radio off one officer’s belt and throwing into the street, then punching or swiping at the face of the officer who had hit him.
The man, who is Black, is shoeless and wearing a faded orange life preserver around his neck.
Bansal told the newspaper she often passes the man while walking her dog and that he usually talks to himself. She said he has never made her feel threatened.
For the next 2½ minutes, the officers keep the man pinned to the ground as they shout commands for him to stop resisting. The two officers strike the man several more times before other officers arrive.
The man was taken to a hospital before being booked into county jail on suspicion of resisting arrest and battery on a police officer, Takeuchi said.
In an email to Chief David Nisleit, Francine Maxwell, president of the NAACP San Diego branch, wrote that “to yell ‘stop resisting’ and to continually punch and slap this man was clearly not conducive to calming the situation.”
Maxwell cited the department’s de-escalation policy, implemented last June amid protests following George Floyd’s murder in Minneapolis.
“This man posed no obvious threat, had no apparent weapons and no one else was near. We want to know that this incident of violence will be properly investigated, and be assured that these officers will not be exonerated for this assault on an unarmed black man,” she wrote.