A Westminster police officer has been put on leave after cellphone video captured him hitting a woman who was twice handcuffed in the face.
In a press release Thursday, the Westminster Police Department said around 4 p.m. Wednesday officers were dispatched to the 14100 block of Locust Street after a call about a woman who assaulted another woman who tried to save a dog.
Officials at the scene identified Ciomara Garcia, 34, as the suspect, police said. They detained Garcia, who the department said had shown signs of distress and already had an outstanding arrest warrant for vandalism.
Footage shows Garcia on the ground and held down by two officers when one of them punched her twice in the face. The other officer, along with a third officer standing nearby, immediately attempted to push the one who had used the force away from Garcia.
The department said the officer who beat Garcia tried to subdue her after she became “combative” as she was handcuffed and awaited the arrival of paramedics. Garcia has been evaluated in a hospital but no injuries have been reported.
According to the department’s spokesperson, Cmdr, she was listed on the arrest warrant for vandalism. Alan Iwashita. The department said it would recommend to the Orange District Attorney’s Office to prosecute assault and battery, being under the influence of a controlled substance, resisting arrest and assaulting a police officer .
Iwashita said the woman allegedly assaulted by Garcia was Asian but it is still not clear whether the attack was racially motivated. It was not immediately clear who represented Garcia.
He said the department would not release more information about the officer, who was placed on administrative leave on Wednesday pending an internal affairs investigation. The department said it was in contact with the public prosecutor’s office, which will decide whether to file a complaint.
“The Westminster Police Department considers this to be a serious event and will ensure this investigation is guided by the law and the truth,” officials said.