The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department opened an investigation after "disturbing" body camera video showed a deputy threaten to punch a woman in the face and then slam her to the ground during an arrest over an alleged theft at a grocery store.
The department released two videos Wednesday after a news briefing to address the incident June 24 at a Lancaster grocery store. The two deputies involved were reassigned from field duty pending further investigation, a spokesperson said. Their names have not been released.
The sheriff's department called the videos "disturbing." The Los Angeles Sheriff's Professional Association did not immediately respond to a request for comment Thursday.
One video shows a deputy arrive at the scene and yell at a man to put his hands on the hood of the car, but the man refuses and says he did nothing wrong. The deputy instructs the man to sit down, and the man complies.
As the man tries to explain what happened at the store, the two deputies place him in handcuffs. At one point in the video, the deputy roughly places him on the ground.
"Why you doing this to me, man? We ain’t even did nothing," the man says.
The second video shows that the woman was recording the man's arrest. The second deputy reaches for her cellphone, grabs her and slams her to the ground. The deputy yells various commands at the woman, telling her to get on the ground, although she is already on the concrete. The deputy is heard in the video telling the woman he will punch her.
"Stop or you're going to get punched in the face," he says.
"Punch me and you’re going to get sued, too," the woman responds.
The man, who refers to the woman as his wife, tells the deputies that she has cancer.
The video shows the deputy pepper-spraying the woman in the face before placing her in handcuffs. The woman had abrasions on her arms and was treated at a hospital.
Sheriff Robert Luna said the deputies were responding to a report of a theft at a grocery store allegedly involving the man and the woman, whom he did not name. He said the woman had been involved in a "theft altercation" with store employees and loss prevention security officers.
The agency said in a news release: "Upon arrival, deputies approached a man, and a woman, matching the description given by store security personnel in calls placed to 911.
"As deputies attempted to detain the individuals described by store security personnel, the encounter escalated into a use of force incident that was captured by a community member with a cell phone camera," the agency said.
The woman was arrested and cited on suspicion of assaulting an officer and battery in connection with an alleged assault on loss prevention personnel, Luna said. The man was arrested and cited on suspicion of delaying an officer, attempted petty theft and interfering with a business, Luna said. It was not clear whether they have attorneys.
The office investigation will include reviewing body-worn camera video, security video from the store and cellphone video provided by a community member.