Another day, another horrific video of apparent police brutality against a mentally unstable man. This time, the scene is set in Long Beach, California and the victim's name is Porfirio Santos-Lopez, 46.
According to the LA Times, Santos-Lopez was seen hitting another man on the head in surveillance footage, so the cops stopped him with good reason. What happened next is captured in the footage above and elicited these reactions from experts on police abuse:
Greg Meyer, a former LAPD captain and use-of-force expert, said the baton blows shown on the YouTube video appeared to follow protocol. He cautioned that the recording did not show the full context of the interaction or clarify exactly how Santos-Lopez was injured.
"It doesn't appear from the video that the police officers were doing anything wrong," Meyer said. "But we still don't know all the facts here."
But Larry Smith, a use-of-force expert and retired Fontana police sergeant and former training specialist, said the response looked excessive because of the baton use. He questioned why the officers didn't exhaust other nonlethal measures — such as pepper spray — or move in to handcuff Santos-Lopez after he was Tasered.
"To me, he must not have been that violent, because otherwise the other officers would have jumped in," Smith said. "They could have always just dog-piled him and then you're not hitting him with a baton."
Santo-Lopez's girlfriend says the guy has been off his feed for a while:
He would constantly call police and paramedics, she said, and she would ask that they take him to a psychiatric facility. Hernandez said authorities told her they couldn't because Santos-Lopez was not a danger to himself. They gave her the number of a police psychiatric unit, she said, but they never returned her calls.
"They had no right to beat him up like that," she said. "They don't need to be doing that to someone like that."
Whatever happens in this case—Santo-Lopez's family is reportedly getting ready to sue the LBPD—thank god for ubiquitous and dispersed cameras that allow fuller pictures of controversial cases to emerge.