PERRIS (CBSLA.com) — A video taken last month of a Perris police officer arresting a woman selling flowers without a permit has prompted controversy.
The cell phone video was shot during the Perris High School graduation ceremony on the evening of June 6. A witness who didn’t want to go on camera tells CBS2 several street vendors were walking into traffic to sell flowers and Hawaiian-style leis. Police started citing them for not having permits.
According to a news release from police Monday, officers who were doing traffic control at Perris Boulevard and Nuevo Road noticed the vendors selling items to drivers who were caught in traffic.
Due to “obvious traffic safety concerns,” the officers warned and cited about 15 vendors for not having proper permits, police said. Witnesses say one woman, identified as 52-year-old Juanita Mendez Medrano, was the only one who resisted, trying to walk away from officers several times.
Police confirm this, stating that Medrano “refused to cooperate” and gave “several fake names, attempting to leave, and pushing the officer away.”
When the officer attempted to arrest her for “violating the city ordinance and obstructing justice,” a struggle ensued and she was eventually taken into custody, police said.
“Why do you do this to us?” Medrano can be heard saying in Spanish to the officer. “We’re living our life. Why do you get me like that?”
In response to the video, police released the following statement:
“Unfortunately, the video did not capture the other vendors cooperating with the citation process, nor did it capture our officer’s repeated efforts to convince Ms. Mendez-Medrano to do the same. As with most police events, the short, publicly produced video does not have the full context or content of the incident seen on the video. Additionally, rarely in police use of force situations is there agreement from all parties involved as to the appropriateness, efficacy or necessity of its use.”
Police said Medrano received a medical clearance prior to being booked into the Southwest Detention Center for a misdemeanor count of obstructing or resisting a public officer. Her next hearing is scheduled for Aug. 25.