A barefoot woman described as harmless was subdued and pummeled by a California Highway Patrol officer in an incident captured on video.
The California Highway Patrol (CHP) is investigating the incident, which occurred on Tuesday in Los Angeles.
Video shot from a by-passing car shows the CHP officer chasing the woman on foot through traffic. In the video, the officer catches up to the woman from behind, spins her around and takes her to the ground. The pair struggled, but the officer ends up on top. From that position, he begins punching her rapidly in the head.
“He is beating her up, yo,” a man filming the incident is heard saying.
“Oh my gosh, why?” a woman asks.
As the officer is continuously punching the woman and grappling with her, another man rushes to help the officer subdue the woman. The CHP officer then handcuffs her.
“She took a left, and the cop, the CHP ran after her, grabbed her to try to subdue her, and then she you know, kind of tried to shove it off…Was she intoxicated? Was she mentally ill? Possibly,” David Diaz, one of the men who filmed the incident, told NBC Los Angeles.
“No one condones when he gets on top of a woman, and this is a big officer, and he punches her repeatedly,” Diaz said. “I think he punched her in the head 15 times.”
Another witness to the incident told NBC Los Angeles that the woman “did not look well, mentally.” As the officer was punching her, “she looked terrified…she just looked gone.”
The witness said that the woman was not wearing shoes and was carrying several bags, indicating that she may have been homeless.
CHP said it was aware of the video and was investigating the incident.
“As a matter of policy, every time there is a use of force by our officers, there is a review conducted to determine whether the use of force was appropriate,” read a CHP statement, according to NBC Los Angeles. “That will be done in this case, however, since there is an ongoing investigation, it would be premature to comment on this specific video segment without reviewing the entire incident.”
CHP did not provide details of what happened to cause the officer to pursue the woman.