Hispanic community leaders are scheduled to meet with police officials from the 3rd District today to discuss growing anger over an incident last weekend in Adams-Morgan in which two men were allegedly struck by a D.C. police officer.

The Rev. Jose Somoza, pastor of Our Lady Queen of the Americas Hispanic Parish at 2200 California St. NW, said actions by 3rd District officers increasingly have soured the Hispanic community's attitude toward police. "The image the police project must be positive," he said. "If they behave in the way this {officer} did, they are going to be hated."

Police said an internal investigation has begun in the 3rd District regarding the incident, which occurred about 11:30 p.m. Saturday in front of the Cities nightclub at 2424 18th St. NW.

Police said the officer, Wayne Walker, 26, believed the men were interfering with his official duties. But they declined to respond further to the allegations against Walker until their investigation is complete. Walker could not be reached for comment.

Though no formal complaint has been filed, several community leaders have voiced their objections to police officials regarding the incident in which the two men required hospital treatment for injuries received during their arrest. Both men have retained lawyers.

Police said that Walker, a two-year member of the force, was transporting a prisoner from 18th Street and Columbia Road when he encountered a taxi that was double parked and impeding traffic.

The officer stopped his cruiser "and got out to address the situation," police said, when he was approached by Fernando Luna, 20, a part-time student from Silver Spring. According to three people who said they saw the incident, Luna was seeking help to break up an argument nearby.

When Luna approached the officer, witnesses said, the officer ordered him to shut up and step back. Luna's attorney, Barry Stiller, said Luna did not hear the officer and continued to approach.

When he did so, witnesses said, the officer punched Luna in the mouth and then slammed him against the police cruiser.

Linwood Bentley, a teacher's aide at Ross Elementary School, said he was watching the incident from the nightclub and, along with several others, ran outside after the incident began. "He hit him twice {in the face} and I said, 'Hey, was that necessary?' "

Bentley said the officer ordered him to shut up and step back. According to witnesses, Bentley stepped back but demanded the officer's badge number. As soon as the officer handcuffed Luna, witnesses said, he walked over and struck Bentley in the face.

Bentley and Luna were arrested shortly after 1 a.m. and charged with disorderly conduct. Bentley said they were taken to D.C. General Hospital around 3:30 a.m. and treated for facial cuts and bruises.

Several Hispanic leaders expressed concern about their community's relations with the police department. Arlene Gillespie, director of the Mayor's Office of Latino Affairs, said her office had received numerous complaints lately. "Concerns have been addressed to me over aggressive officers," she said.