Los Angeles Police Department officers are being openly criticized online after a video showing them tackling and arresting a 19-year-old went viral over the weekend.
The 19-year-old, Robert Cortez, says he was videotaping his two friend's arrests when one of the officers turned on him.
Cortez and his friends were in the area of Harbor City Park at around 5 p.m. to attend an LAPD-sponsored movie night designed to strengthen relationships between police and the community. He said he volunteered to help set up the event before the incident occurred. LAPD disputed his claim and said he was neither participating in the event nor a volunteer.
He said that he and his group were approached by officers before they detained his two friends.
"That was the reason, a suspicion to believe that we had a gun," Cortez said, noting that he began recording the incident.
Footage from Cortez's phone shows the moment the officer lunged in his direction.
"He didn't lunge at me, he lunged at my phone," he said. "Without giving me warning at all he just started detaining me. I was still asking, 'Why am I being detained?' And they still never told me. Then they roughed me up on the floor, the other officer was grabbing me by my legs, tossing me around. He was telling me 'Stop resisting.'"
"I've never been arrested prior to this," Cortez said.
He was later booked for resisting an executive officer. The Los Angeles City Attorney's office later filed one count of resisting arrest against Cortez.
"What was the crime?" Cortez's mother, Rocio Gonzalez asked. "We have no crime here. His only alleged crime was recording."
Cortez's two friends were released and no firearms were recovered at the scene.
LAPD issued a statement in response to the uproar on social media after the video went viral, with many claiming another incident of police brutality. The statement read in part:
"Once the first two were handcuffed, officers turned their attention to the individual who had begun recording the officers with his cell phone. A portion of this interaction was recorded by the third individual as well as bystanders. Apparently, the recordings were uploaded to various social media platforms. The Department is aware that some have suggested that the third individual was only detained as he was attempting to record the officers' actions. Others at the scene were also recording and not the subject of the officer's attention. "
Cortez's mother, still outraged by the incident, is calling for more out of police officers.
"Training has to be better," she said. "Deescalating the situation has to be better."
LAPD has launched a use of force investigation. It also said someone had submitted personnel complaint.
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