LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — A Los Angeles police officer pleaded not guilty Monday to a charge of assault under the color of authority.
Richard Garcia, 34, surrendered to authorities Monday and was charged with assault by a public officer for applying unlawful force, prosecutors said, in which officers approached the victim at 55th Street and Avalon Boulevard on Oct. 16, 2014, during a robbery investigation.
Garcia, who has been on paid administrative leave from the parole compliance unit of the department’s Newton Community Police Station, pleaded not guilty in court Monday.
Clinton Alford Jr., who matched the description of the robbery suspect, continued to bike away when he was asked to stop by a plainclothes police officer. When the officers caught up with him, Alford’s attorney says, security video shows his client voluntarily laying down in the street and putting his hands behind his back, when Garcia is seen getting out of another patrol car, then stomping and kicking Alford as he’s lying on the ground.
“I was just praying to God that they wouldn’t kill me. I felt that I was gonna die, until I passed out,” Alford said at a news conference Monday.
“I would like to see him terminated. And I would like justice,” he said.
Three more officers, including a sergeant, in connection with this case are on paid administrative leave.
Alford’s attorney, Caree Harper, says they are fighting to have the security camera footage of the arrest released to the public and that the family plans on filing a federal civil rights lawsuit for damages. All charges were dismissed against Alford shortly after his arrest last year.
LAPD Chief Charlie Beck released the following statement, reading in part: “Any officer that abuses the public’s trust is not welcome in the LAPD. The LAPD will take swift action to investigate and refer appropriate cases for prosecution to the L.A. District Attorney’s Office whenever an officer is suspected of committing a criminal act.”
Garcia faces up to three years in county jail if convicted as charged.
Prosecutors say they will ask for Garcia’s bail to be set at $35,000.