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Valley LAPD Officer Investigated for Punching, Kicking Female in Cell

Video of the incident seemed to contradict the officer's account of why he needed to use force on the suspect.

An LAPD officer is under investigation for assaulting a female suspect while in a holding cell in Van Nuys. Patch file photo.
An LAPD officer is under investigation for assaulting a female suspect while in a holding cell in Van Nuys. Patch file photo.

Los Angeles police officials are investigating a male officer videotaped punching and kicking a female suspect in a jail holding cell, it was reported today.

The altercation occurred in the jail at the LAPD's Van Nuys station in February or March, a police official who requested anonymity told the Los Angeles Times. The incident was reported promptly to station supervisors, who launched an investigation, which is done whenever an officer uses force on a suspect, the official said.   

An investigator reviewed a video of the beating from a security camera, and it seemed to contradict the officer's account of why he needed to use force on the suspect, the source told The Times. But the official declined to detail what the video showed or what the officer claims occurred.

The officer delivered multiple kicks and punches until other officers entered the holding cell, according to the official. It was not immediately known whether the woman required medical attention afterward or why she was in custody.

Word of the investigation coincides with the prosecution of another LAPD officer on assault charges.

According to the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office, security video from a restaurant near Staples Center showed Officer Jonathan Lai repeatedly striking a man in the legs with his baton while the man was on his knees with his hands on his head.

Prosecutors said Lai and his partner were on routine patrol on April 15, 2012, when they approached the man, who was standing alone, allegedly with an open container of alcohol.

Lai, 30, was charged with one count each of assault by a police officer and assault with a deadly weapon. His bail was set at $35,000, which he immediately posted following his arraignment Wednesday, when he entered a plea of not guilty. He is due back in court Aug. 21, when a date will be set for a hearing to determine if there is enough evidence for him to stand trial.

Lai has been placed on home duty with pay, according to LAPD Lt. Andy Neiman.

The department's Force Investigation Division discovered the video footage of the beating, and after it was reviewed, Lai and his partner were removed from field duties. Lai's partner was later cleared in the matter, police said.

"The LAPD carefully reviews incidents involving the use of force and we conduct thorough investigations to ensure that officers are held accountable for violating policies and going beyond the law," Police Chief Charlie Beck said.

Neiman said another LAPD investigation will be conducted after the criminal case against Lai is completed.

Lai has been with the department for more than six years, Neiman said.

--City News Service


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