San Diego officers shown tackling, punching homeless Black man in video

"I see him around all the time. He's harmless. He's just homeless," an eye witness said of the homeless man.

This week the San Diego Police Department has confirmed it’s launching an internal probe after officers were caught on video repeatedly punching a homeless man during an arrest.

According to the Los Angeles Times, around 9 a.m Wednesday morning, eye witness Nicole Bansal noticed a homeless man who frequents the area being pummeled by officers at La Jolla Village Drive and Torrey Pines Road.

“It’s so excessive and unnecessary,” Bansal said, explaining why she chose to record the incident.

“I see him around all the time. He’s harmless. He’s just homeless,” the 34-year-old said Thursday. “He’s very easy to recognize because he always has a big orange life vest on.”

San Diego police
The San Diego Police Department has confirmed it’s launching an internal probe after two of its officers were caught on video repeatedly punching a homeless man during an arrest. (Credit: screenshot)

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Thursday, police spokesman Lt. Shawn Takeuchi announced that that the Internal Affairs Unit is investigating and reviewing body camera video of the incident, which began after officers on patrol “witnessed a man urinating in public.”

“From a distance, the officers tried to talk to the man. The officers decided to approach the man because urinating in public violates the law,” Takeuchi wrote in his statement. “The man would not stop to speak with officers therefore an officer held the man to detain him.”

“Despite the officers repeatedly telling the man to ‘stop resisting,’ the man would not comply. One of the officers struck the man several times,” Takeuchi went on.

But Bansal, who was driving on La Jolla Village Drive preparing to turn onto Torrey Pines Road when police vehicles raced past her, still has questions and concerns about why officers had made such violent contact with the man that morning. She wondered why they did not instead peacefully de-escalate as they are trained to.

“There was no movement made to de-escalate,” Bansal countered. “The immediate movement was to take him down. I don’t understand.”

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(Photo by Mark Makela/Getty Images)

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To her point, her footage shows an officer holstering his stun gun before forcefully wrapping his arms around the man’s chest. Then the two officers and the homeless man all struggle on their feet for several seconds before officers are able to wrestle him down to the ground.

For almost three minutes the two officers hover over the man with one officer holding his lower body and the other holding his upper body. When the three men are on the ground, one officer slams his forearm on the man’s head and face several times. Meanwhile, the other officer begins to punch the back of the man’s left leg several times. 

The LA Times reports, “the lieutenant said the man was taken to a hospital before being released from medical care and booked into the county jail. Records showed he remained in custody Thursday in lieu of $20,000 bail. He was booked on suspicion of three felony counts of resisting an officer, three misdemeanor counts of battery on a police officer and a misdemeanor count related to throwing the radio.”

 “We at Father Joe’s Villages are deeply troubled by this video,” Deacon Jim Vargas, president and CEO at Father Joe’s Villages, which provides services for the homeless, wrote in a statement Thursday. “It is a clear illustration of several broken systems and a stark and distressing reminder of the insufficient resources available to those on our streets.”

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