'Completely unacceptable': Video released of LASD deputy punching woman in face during arrest

Leanne Suter Image
Thursday, July 13, 2023
Video released of LASD deputy punching woman in face during arrest
The L.A. County Sheriff's Department released video of a deputy punching a woman twice in the face as she held her baby.

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- A Los Angeles County sheriff's deputy punched a woman twice in the face as she held her baby during an arrest last year in Palmdale, Sheriff Robert Luna said Wednesday.

The Sheriff's Department released body-camera footage of the incident shortly before Luna held a news conference at the Hall of Justice in downtown L.A. The deputy involved has been taken off field duty.

"I found the punching of the woman in these circumstances completely unacceptable," Luna said in the news conference. "While this incident occurred one year ago before my term as sheriff began I took swift action upon learning about this incident several days ago."

The incident stemmed from a traffic stop in July 2022 when deputies from the Palmdale station spotted a vehicle that smelled of alcohol and was driving without headlights at night. Luna said a male driver, four women and three infants were in the car that was pulled over. The three babies weren't in car seats and were being held in their mother's arms.

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L.A. County Sheriff Robert Luna responded to the video and insisted that a thorough review of the confrontation will be conducted.

The male driver was arrested on suspicion of driving on a suspended license, driving under the influence of alcohol and child endangerment. Four women in the car were held on suspicion of child endangerment.

During the arrests, one of the women refused to let go of her 3-week-old infant and was punched twice by a deputy, Luna said.

The video shows one woman's child being forcibly taken from her as she shrieks, then a second woman sitting cross-legged on the ground, holding her 3-week-old child.

Deputies try to convince her to give them the child, and the mother responds, "You'll have to shoot me dead before you take my baby," the video shows. As she resists, a deputy punches her several times in the face, and she is handcuffed.

Luna said he believed the punching was "an isolated incident committed by an individual who will be held accountable." He said most other employees are doing "incredible work on behalf of 10 million residents."

Luna said state law prevents him from talking about disciplinary action that was taken, but his agency has referred the case to the district attorney's office for consideration of criminal charges. The FBI in L.A. will also look into the case.

Last week, Luna said two deputies had been pulled from field duty after video surfaced of a deputy in neighboring Lancaster violently tackling a woman while she filmed a man being handcuffed, then pepper-spraying her in the face on June 24.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.