A family is demanding answers after Los Angeles deputies were captured on video punching a disabled man and placing him in a chokehold.
Video obtained by FOX11 shows one of the deputies using the controversial restraining method on 34-year-old Alejandro Hernandez, while another officer strikes him in the face, causing him to bleed. Hernandez, an amputee, had the lower part of his body under a vehicle.
One of the deputies is also seen drawing a gun at a bystander who approached the scene.
Hernandez was arrested on 20 November on suspicion of possession of a firearm by an ex-felon and battery on a police officer charges. The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department has since claimed that Hernandez was resisting the arrest and that an internal investigation into the incident is underway.
However, Hernandez’s family maintains that he was harassed by police and that he was simply washing his car outside of his home when he was ambushed by the two officers. The family plans to file a lawsuit, their attorney, Christian Contreras, told ABC.
“While one deputy had a carotid chokehold around his neck, which is outlawed in California, another deputy was freely punching his face. The video speaks for itself,” Mr Contreras told the network.
On Saturday, several protesters held a rally in front of the East LA sheriff’s station. Among those who attended the protest were Hernandez’s mother and his young daughter, who was seen holding a sign that read, “Justice for my dad.”
“He’s a human being,” Gabriela Ortega told ABC about her son, who lost a leg a few years ago. “I understand they’re doing their job, but there was no need for that brutality that they did, the beating that they gave him.”
The LA County Sheriff’s Department said in a statement that Hernadez has been identified as a gang member. A loaded 9mm firearm was recovered during the arrest.
Ms Ortega admitted that her son had “done the crime” in the past, but said he is now on a better path.
“We try to steer our kids to the right path. Sometimes they choose the wrong path,” Ms Ortega added. “But now they say, ‘Ok, he’s a gang member,’ and to them, he’s always going to be a gang member.”
The mother also told the LA Times that she felt her family was being harassed by law enforcement and claimed that a deputy recently pointed a gun at her husband during a traffic stop. The Independent has reached out to the LA County Sheriff’s Department.
According to jail records, Hernandez was released on bond three days after his arrest.
“As with any use-of-force incident a comprehensive review will be conducted to determine if department policies and procedures were followed,” the department said in a statement to the Times.
Neck restraints have been banned by 73 of the 100 largest police departments in the US, according to the CCJ.
Following George Floyd’s death in 2020 after he was put in a headlock by a Minneapolis Police Department officer, the Justice Department banned federal law enforcement from using the restraining method during arrests.