LOS ANGELES >> Los Angeles police body camera video released Sunday shows a man hitting an officer in the face in what authorities say prompted his arrest at the site where he was knocked to the ground and out of his wheelchair amid a struggle.
The incident occurred July 14 and resulted in 33-year-old Joshua Wilson’s arrest on suspicion of being a felon in possession of a firearm after authorities found a loaded gun in a backpack on his wheelchair. The video does not show Wilson ever reaching for his bag. It was not immediately clear if he had an attorney who could speak on his behalf.
Protesters, who were demonstrating against police brutality in the city’s downtown, say the LAPD officers used excessive force in their arrests of Wilson and others, according to the Los Angeles Times.
The LAPD has come under fire in recent weeks for other allegations of excessive force during protests against police brutality in the wake of George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis.
The arrest of Wilson occurred as officers were trying to take two women into custody who, as police described in a news release, appeared to be “in the midst of a mental health crisis.” Officers planned to take them to a hospital for evaluations.
As officers were speaking to the women, police saw 53-year-old David Dixon was pushing and yelling at another man nearby. He was arrested on an outstanding warrant on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon.
As police prepared to leave with the trio, a group of about 50 protesters came into the area and began chanting: “Let them go!” Officers called for backup, one shouting, “We need help!” over the radio as a chaotic scene unfolded.
Wilson is seen in the video struggling with police in his wheelchair and when he is on the ground as protesters scream and try to come to his aid. At least one officer is seen brandishing a baton to keep them back. Other video shows an officer who grabbed the man’s unoccupied wheelchair and tossed it, causing a wheel to fall off, the Times reported.
At one point, a teenager — identified by the Times as 17-year-old Elliot Sanchez — is seen on the ground and appears to be having a seizure in the video. Sanchez told the newspaper that an officer was asking protesters to leave the area and was walking toward him as Sanchez stepped back. Sanchez said he asked the officer for his badge number, and said he was struck with a baton in the chest and neck. The strike, he told the Times, caused him to fall and suffer an asthma attack and a seizure.
Sanchez told the newspaper he was taken into custody after being treated at a hospital and given a citation for resisting arrest. An LAPD spokesman disputed Sanchez’s account to the Times, saying he was pushed but not struck with a baton or arrested. The spokesman, Josh Rubenstein, told the newspaper he could not confirm Sanchez’s citation because he is a minor.
The LAPD news release does not mention any encounter with Sanchez, though the video includes footage of the teenager, saying he was “pushed to the ground and was later transported to the hospital for an unrelated condition.” The video does not include that he was allegedly pushed by an officer; police are heard saying “He fell down” before an officer calls for an ambulance.
Another man, 30-year-old Mario Chacon, was arrested on suspicion of battery on a police officer after police said he tried to grab an officer’s equipment and pushed another officer. The LAPD says only that a “use of force occurred” as the officer tried to stop him. Police allege that the crowd tried to pull him away from police but he was taken into custody.
It was also not immediately clear if he or Dixon have attorneys who could speak on their behalf.