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Santa Ana police caught on tape punching suspect

Surveillance video allegedly shows Santa Ana police officers repeatedly punching an alleged burglary suspect.
Surveillance video allegedly shows Santa Ana police officers repeatedly punching an alleged burglary suspect. Family members say it's a brutal police beating caught on camera.

The video was recorded at Miriam Grajales' home on June 20 when police officers responded to a burglary call on the 400 block of South Broadway. It shows what appears to be officers punching the suspect, 27-year-old Edgar Vargas, and hitting him in the legs with a baton.

Santa Ana police Cpl. Anthony Bertagna says the officers established a perimeter to prevent the suspect's escape, but Vargas fled, running across rooftops and fences. Officers were finally able to detain him in the front yard of a residence.

Grajales says one officer began striking Vargas after he dropped to the ground.

"He didn't even resist and the police officer just started beating him right away. He was already on the ground. Why use such force?" Grajales said.

Vargas' mother, Olivia, says her son's drug addiction makes him paranoid and afraid, but she and Grajales say that's no reason for police to beat him since he had given himself up.

"You don't have to finish university or whatever to know that that is police brutality," Grajales said.

Vargas was later medically cleared and charged with attempted burglary, battery of a police officer, resisting arrest and tampering with a vehicle.

The department says it is investigating the officers' use of force.

"The department immediately initiated an internal administrative investigation to determine if any misconduct occurred during the arrest of the suspect. The Santa Ana Police Department is committed to providing quality police services and regard all allegations of employees misconduct as serious matters," Bertagna said in a statement.

Vargas has since been released on bond. His family has hired an attorney.

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