“We are looking for witnesses,” Sgt. Christian Hauptmann told The Washington Post in an interview. “There were probably a lot of people in the store. … We’re just really trying to get those witnesses to come forward.”
The arrest has left the community and law enforcement wanting more answers to what happened in the moments that led to the recording of the arrest. Video of the incident, which begins with the suspect on the ground, has been widely shared across social media. It’s among a handful of violent police arrests and responses caught on video lately that have led to calls for police reform.
The officers, assigned to a unit that patrols the city’s downtown and mall area, were responding to a report of a theft inside the mall.
Three of the four officers who arrived on the scene were in plain clothes when they attempted to detain the suspect. Hauptmann said many officers in that unit aren’t dressed in uniform because that improves surveillance and reduces the number of foot chases.
The recording begins with two officers in street clothes hurling multiple punches at the suspect’s head while another tries to gain control of his legs. A uniformed officer enters the frame from the right and delivers a kick to the suspect’s face as onlookers gasped.
A witness told CBS LA that the officer who kicked the suspect wasn’t originally on the scene. “He just decided I’m going to kick this kid in the face,” the witness, who isn’t named in the CBS story, said.
One of the officers commands the suspect to turn around on his face. “This is the police department. We told you,” the officer says.
The suspect cries out for the officers to stop and yells that he can’t breathe. Officers tell him to stop resisting arrest as more officers arrive to help their colleagues. When the suspect’s hands are secured behind his back, officers escort him away and the video ends.
The unidentified man was arrested in connection with petty theft (after stolen merchandise was allegedly recovered from him) and resisting an officer by force. He has since been released from custody, Hauptmann confirmed.
A spokesperson for Brookfield Properties Retail Group, which owns the Glendale Galleria Mall, told The Post that its mall officers didn’t know about the Saturday arrest until video surfaced across social media and made headlines. She also clarified that the company doesn’t own the space Dick’s Sporting Goods occupies.
A Dick’s Sporting Goods spokesperson told The Post that the incident ended in arrest at its Glendale store but that shoplifting and theft didn’t happen there.
Video of the arrest was hard to watch for the suspect’s sister, Melissa Navarette, she told CBS LA. “We got traumatized,” she said. “We have, like, all of the video stuck in our head.”
Navarette didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment from The Post.
Her brother suffered injuries to his head and his eye as a result of the arrest, but his family is helping him recover, CBS LA reported. The family would like for the incident to be used as a training tool to prevent a similar encounter in the future.