Long Beach police officers are under investigation after a video of officers beating a man was leaked on YouTube. Lee Ann Hernandez, the girlfriend of the man in the video, says that her boyfriend has mental issues and that his family plans to sue the police department.
Porfirio Santos-Lopez was involved in a fight with two other men on Labor Day. When officers arrived and tried to take him into custody, he reportedly resisted arrest. A cell phone video an anonymous bystander captured shows Santos-Lopez being beaten with batons and shocked with a Taser during the arrest. The police officers are accused of using excessive force in the situation.
The Long Beach Police Department doesn’t believe the officers were in the wrong in the incident and claims that Santos-Lopez assaulted the arresting officers. Sergeant Aaron Easton says that Santos-Lopez punched officers and "fell to the ground and began kicking officers." The individual who took the video of the beating disagrees, saying that Santos-Lopez wasn’t fighting back at first. “He was just laying there, taking the Tase and the baton hits. I guess it’s just a typical reaction that anybody would have, just start kicking around.”
Santos-Lopez was taken to the hospital after officers subuded him, where he received stitches and treatment for a collapsed lung. He faces four charges, including resisting arrest and battery on a police officer. According to Hernandez, the beating and charges are unwarranted because Santos-Lopez has mental problems. Hernandez told the Los Angeles Times that her boyfriend had been drinking lately and acting paranoid.
“He thinks my late husband is here,” Hernandez said. “He thinks he’s angry and he’s trying to hurt him.” Santos-Lopez’s girlfriend also claims that her boyfriend isn’t a violent man. “He’s not the one to go out and fight. His mind was probably agitated and he wasn’t himself.” Hernandez says she has requested Long Beach police to help Santos-Lopez receive psychiatric treatment in the past, but that her pleas have went unheard.
So far none of the officers involved in the incident have been suspended, but they are being investigated to determine whether excessive force was used. Hernandez says that Santos-Lopez’s family is planning to sue, which wouldn't be the first time the Long Beach Police Department has been sued for using excessive force. Last year a $1 million lawsuit was filed for injuries sustained while police were making arrests during a drug raid.
Warning: Video of the beating below contains graphic content, including vulgar language.