EL MONTE (CBSLA) — For witnesses like Kristina Sandoval, emotions were still raw Monday — days after a violent encounter between health inspectors, police and two El Monte street vendors.
“You don’t care, why,” she said. “Because we’re Mexicans, or maybe you think we’re in the wrong for selling in the street?”READ MORE: LAPD Chief Michel Moore Admitted To Hospital After 'Not Feeling Well'
Cell phone video of the encounter shows the moment the conversation turned to confrontation Saturday night. As things escalated to a physical altercation, all parties involved fell to the ground.
But what exactly the video shows depends on who is asked.
On one hand, Fermin Martinez, the owner of Los Palomos Taco Stand, said in Spanish that he did not strike anyone in the confrontation.
“Never at any moment did I hit anyone,” he said. “I didn’t hit him.”
On the other hand, El Monte Police Department Chief David Reynoso said the man did physically assault health inspectors and an officer.
“He did kick one of the health inspectors,” he said. “Also kicked an officer and, at one point, even reached for the officer’s taser.”
In the video, Martinez appeared to reach for an officer’s belt line, but it was not immediately clear what, if anything, he was reaching for.READ MORE: At Least 15 People Killed After SUV, Big-Rig Collide In Imperial County
Reynoso said the altercation was a sudden turn of events after officers and health inspectors had already finished 10 visits that day without incident.
According to Reynoso, it was Martinez’s wife who got physical with one of the agents first, which led to a call for backup and then the altercation where police said she kept kicking — even after she was handcuffed.
“That’s a lie,” Sandoval said. “If you’re gonna trust the police report of a video of the situation, that’s a lie.”
Sandoval, who runs a dessert stand connected to Los Polomos, said the health department has been harassing them. She said if the owners got physical, it was only to protect themselves.
“We are the stand that gets [visited] by the health department five times a day, seven times a week,” she said. “Every day they have been coming, we don’t know when this is gonna stop.”
Martinez has been charged with assault on a police officer and resisting a police officer during the course of their duties. His wife, Sylvia Aguilar, has been charged with resisting a police officer during the course of their duties and assault.
The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health said the inspectors were investigating reports of food vendors operating without permits.MORE NEWS: Hollywood Gets Casual: Bill Murray, Jason Sudeikis Among Those Dressed Down For The Golden Globes
Police said Martinez apologized to them in person for losing his temper and even wrote an apology to the officer he allegedly kicked.