LASD releases bodycam video of confrontation with couple outside Lancaster grocery store

Leo Stallworth Image
Wednesday, July 5, 2023
LASD releases new video of controversial confrontation in Lancaster
An investigation is underway after a Los Angeles County sheriff's deputy was caught on camera throwing a woman to the ground outside a store in Lancaster.

LANCASTER, Calif. (KABC) -- The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department released body camera video showing the moment a deputy threw a woman to the ground outside a store in Lancaster.

The incident happened on Saturday, June 24, outside the WinCo grocery store on W Ave K 4.

The department says deputies were apprehending a man and woman accused of shoplifting inside the store.

"Why am I under arrest ... for what?" the man is heard saying in the bodycam footage.

"You are not under arrest, you are being detained," responded the deputy.

"Detained for what?" asks the man, who begins to grow frustrated.

"Calm down!" says another deputy.

After placing the man in handcuffs, the deputies then walk toward the woman, who was recording the encounter. They attempt to grab her arm, but she pushes the deputies away.

"No, you can't touch me!" yelled the woman.

"Stop. Stop!" the deputy said. She then screams after being thrown to the ground.

"Get down on the ground!" the deputy yells.

"It's already on YouTube live!" said the woman.

The struggle continues and the deputy then says, "Stop it or I'll punch you in the face."

The woman responds by saying, "You punch me, you're going to get sued."

The woman was pepper sprayed during the confrontation and accused the deputy of putting his knee on her neck.

"I can't breathe," she's heard saying in the bodycam video.

Cell phone video captured by a witness shows another view of the incident.

In that video, the man who was being arrested yelled, "Don't slam her down like that," and claimed the woman has cancer.

Tom Yu, an attorney for the deputies, said the deputies were dispatched to deal with what they understood to be a robbery in progress in which the suspects had allegedly threatened store employees.

He said if the woman had complied with deputies' demands, they would not have had to use force to take her down.

"There's a narrative of saying, 'The deputies struck her down because she was recording,'' said Yu. "She's not an innocent bystander. She's involved. She's detained in this robbery investigation."

The department issued the following statement on the incident.

"The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department has opened an investigation into this incident. While the Department does not make statements related to ongoing investigations, Sheriff Luna has made it clear that he expects Department personnel to treat all members of the public with dignity and respect, and that personnel who do not uphold our training standards will be held accountable. In the interest of transparency with our community, the Sheriff's Department is releasing body-worn camera video from the incident."

The deputies involved have been reassigned from field duties pending further administrative review.

Meanwhile, an activist group called Cancel the Contract, which calls for resources to be diverted from law enforcement and into communities of color, is organizing a rally outside of the store on Wednesday to demand that the department fire the deputies seen in the video.

Raquel Derfler with the group said it's unthinkable that they were alleged to have stolen a cake.

"That was the allegation - that they had shoplifted a cake," said Derfler. "So let me be clear, nothing has been proven, but it was alleged ... and that's how they came in hot like that, as though they were brandishing firearms or attacking or assaulting members of the community when it was simply a cake."

Activists say the video simply shows deputies out of control.

"The point is you see two senior citizens and you are acting like you are in fear of your life. You see their whole person, you see their whole body. You see her hands up video-taping - she is of no threat, but he walks over, grabs her by the neck, slams her to the ground, puts his knee there and this ground is hot," said Waunette Callors.

WinCo has not responded to a request for comment.