The Long Beach Police Department is defending its actions after a viral video posted this week showed officers with batons beating a man whose family later said they would file a lawsuit.
As a witness records the incident with her cell phone, the officers repeatedly strike Santos-Lopez with their batons and a Taser.
The woman who recorded the video declined to be identified.
“In the beginning, he was not fighting back. He was just laying there, taking the Tase and the baton hits,” she told KTLA. “I guess it’s just a typical reaction that anybody would have — just start kicking around.”
Long Beach police later released surveillance video that, according to officials, shows Santos-Lopez shortly before his arrest.
“That individual seemed to be irrational. He was combative,” Long Beach police Sgt. Aaron Eaton said Tuesday. “In the video that is on YouTube, he can be seen kicking at the officers.”
Police were called to the scene to break up a fight to which Santos-Lopez was a party, authorities said. Surveillance video taken outside a liquor store showed Santos-Lopez fist-fighting with two other men, police said.
He was drunk and out of control when police arrived on scene, authorities said. Santos-Lopez kicked an officer in the face and kicked the baton out of an officer’s hand during the arrest, Eaton said.
Family members said Santos-Lopez was recovering from surgery in the hospital. The family plans to sue Long Beach Police Department, according to Santos-Lopez’s wife, Lee Ann Hernandez.
“They broke two of his bones in his right arm around his elbow. They broke it so bad that he needed surgery,” Hernandez said.
Several cuts required stitches, and one of Santos-Lopez’s lungs was collapsed, his wife said.
Lopez-Santos had a history of mental illness and police had been called to help him in past, Hernandez said.
“He needs help because he hears people talking and he sees people, and he knows that,” she said.
The officers involved in Santos-Lopez’s arrest remained on active duty as an investigation was underway, authorities said.