Surveillance Video Captures Rough Arrest By Santa Ana Police
SANTA ANA (CBSLA.com) — A five-minute video posted on YouTube shows what his mother says is Santa Ana police beating a 27-year-old man after he is on the ground.
He has been identified as Michael Vargas, also known as Edgar and Miguel.
The video was captured on surveillance video from a home on Sycamore Street.
KCAL9’s Cristy Fajardo spoke to the man’s mother.
Olivia Arzate said she knew her son was arrested and taken into custody June 20.
But she didn’t know why he had to be hospitalized.
Police told Fajardo that force sometimes has to be used in making an arrest and they acknowledge force was used in this case.
Investigators, she said, would not have to determine if force was required.
During the video, Vargas is shown putting his hands up and then getting on his knees and then laying prone.
One officer starts punching him half a dozen times with the officer’s knee planted on his back. Another starts swinging what looks to be a baton or large flashlight up and down his legs.
Police said they are investigating the use of excessive force.
The actual confrontation takes about a minute.
Officers said the man refused to comply and attempted to flee while they were on a call about a burglary in progress. They said they caught up with him a few blocks from his house after he climbed over other fences, tried to get into locked cars and even tried to open the locked window of a home.
“So much violence, why?,” Arzate said in Spanish. “What I want is the truth.”
She told Fajardo that one of the officers in the video told her that her son had been assaulted by gang members.
It was only after the neighbor showed her the video, she says, that she learned her son was actually hit and Tasered by officers.
“I know nothing of officers going to her and saying that her son was beaten by a bunch of gangsters and bitten by a pit bull,” Santa Ana Police Department Cpl. Anthony Bertagna said. “There is no evidence of that.”
He says officers documented in their report that force was used. Bertagna also said the man was taken to a hospital because he appeared to be high on drugs at the time of the arrest.
Arzate told Fajardo her son does have a drug problem but says he wasn’t planning on robbing anyone.
“He was surrendering,” she said. “Their obligation is to cuff him, not beat him like they did.”
Vargas has been charged with attempted burglary, battery on a peace officer and unlawful tampering of a vehicle and resisting a police officer, court records show.