After suppressing the video for nearly two years, the LAPD received a court order on Monday to release the surveillance video of an officer assaulting a handcuffed suspect without justification. Initially charged with felony assault, LAPD Officer Richard Garcia will not receive jail time after pleading no contest earlier this year.
Following the prosecution’s acceptance of Garcia’s plea deal, The Los Angeles Times requested a copy of the October 2014 video under the California Public Records Act. Although the LAPD refused their request last week, Superior Court Judge William Sterling ordered the video to be released the next day.
According to the newly released video, Clinton Alford Jr. drops onto his stomach and begins to place his hands behind his back as two officers restrain him while placing him in handcuffs. Despite the fact that Alford does not appear to resist or fight back, Garcia suddenly exits his patrol car and kicks Alford.
After kneeing him in the back and punching his head, Garcia repeatedly strikes the back of Alford’s head with his elbow. None of the officers in the video make any attempt to stop Garcia as he appears to beat Alford unconscious.
For more than two minutes, Garcia digs his knee into Alford’s back while another officer briefly steps on Alford’s ankle for no justifiable reason. At the end of the video, Garcia and two other officers callously lift Alford’s limp and motionless body, carrying him towards a patrol car.
“I was just praying that they wouldn’t kill me,” recalled Alford. “I just closed my eyes and tried to hold on.”
Realizing that a nearby surveillance video had recorded the vicious assault, Garcia led a group of cops into the building and watched the video. According to witness Citlali Alvarado who later testified in court, Garcia recorded the video on his cell phone as two other officers laughed while watching the excessive use of force.
According to the officers’ attorney Gary Fullerton, the officers were attempting to locate a robbery suspect that fit Alford’s description. In a case of mistaken identity, the cops pursued and arrested the wrong man. The officers were placed on paid administrative leave following the incident.
Charged with a felony count of assault under the color of authority, Garcia faced a maximum sentence of three years in prison if convicted. Reaching a plea agreement with the prosecution, Garcia pleaded no contest in exchange for serving 300 hours of community service instead of a jail sentence. Garcia also agreed to stay away from Alford, donate $500 to a charity, and avoid breaking the law again before his next hearing in May.