A Garden Grove police officer is facing misdemeanor charges after battering and threatening homeless people while on duty late last year in incidents captured on body-worn camera, prosecutors said Wednesday.
Officer Kevin Dinh carried out the beatings on at least two separate occasions, both times while the men’s hands were restrained, the Orange County District Attorney’s Office said in a news release.
The first was on Sept. 20, when Dinh and a partner were sent to a restaurant that had complained people living on the streets were refusing to leave the storefront, the DA’s office said.
Dinh allegedly knocked one of the men up the back of his head while holding the victim’s hands in the air. He then twisted the man’s hands while holding them behind his back, and he threatened to knock the victim’s teeth out if he saw him again, prosecutors said.
The next month, on Oct. 18, Dinh was with two other officers investigating a package theft at a bus stop. As a homeless suspect sat handcuffed, Dihn struck the man’s head and pulled his hair while saying something to him, officials said.
The theft suspect was uncuffed and released after officers spoke with him, according to the DA’s office.
Police say they learned of the incidents in October after they were reported by another police officer who witnessed them.
Dinh has been charged with two counts of unlawful beating by a police officer, two counts of simple battery and four counts of attempted criminal threats — all misdemeanors.
He could face up to four years in county jail if convicted as charged, prosecutors say.
Dinh has been on the Garden Grove police force 12 years and is on administrative leave, pending the outcome of the investigation. He was assigned to patrol at the time of the alleged crimes, the Police Department said.
“We will not tolerate this behavior on any members of our community,” Garden Grove Police Chief Tom DaRe said in a statement. “Everyone will be treated with dignity and respect.”
The Police Department says it believes the attacks are isolated, but asked anyone else who may be a victim to contact the Detective Bureau at 714-741-5800.