LAPD Officer Charged In Beating Of Homeless Man In Boyle Heights
NOTE: The above video contains profanity and images that may be upsetting.
An LAPD officer captured on video repeatedly punching a trespassing suspect in Boyle Heights has been charged with felony assault.
In a statement announcing the charges, District Attorney Jackie Lacey said:
“This is a disturbing case of the illegal use of force at the hands of a police officer. In this case, we believe the force was neither legally necessary nor reasonable.”
Bystander video captured by @foosgonewild and body cam footage released by the department showed Officer Frank Hernandez and his partner removing the man from a vacant lot on April 27 after the owner complained of a couple living there.
In the video, the man repeatedly taunted Hernandez with expletives and slurs as he left the lot. When the officer tried to detain him, the man pushed the officer away. Then the officer punched the man repeatedly.
Bystander video showed Hernandez hitting the man at least 16 times in the head and body. At one point, the man asks the officer, "What's wrong with you?"
Hernandez has been charged with one felony count of assault under color of authority. He is scheduled to be arraigned on Thursday at the Foltz Criminal Justice Center in downtown Los Angeles.
Lacey has come under sharp criticism from her opponent, former San Francisco DA George Gascón, as well as Black Lives Matter-L.A. and other groups who say she hasn't done enough to hold abusive officers responsible.
Last week in an interview with our newsroom, Lacey said that "charging police officers with a crime is one of the most difficult challenges I've faced as a district attorney."
Lacey, who spoke to us again today, said the combination of bystander video and the body cam video from both Hernandez and an officer standing next to him "clearly gave us enough evidence to charge Officer Hernandez with excessive force, which is a felony in California."
Asked about the speed of her decision to file charges, Lacey differentiated this case from police shootings, which she said often require additional investigation. "When this case was delivered by the LAPD, they had everything ready."
She noted the video evidence showed "clearly unprovoked force being used against someone who was submitting to arrest."
Lacey said she wasn't prepared to answer questions about three shootings by Hernandez, reported by the L.A. Times late last week, because she had not yet reviewed those files.