GLENDALE, California (KCAL KCBS) — After a video provided to CBS2/KCAL9 by a witness showing three plainclothes Glendale police officers beating a teenager suspected of shoplifting, with another uniformed officer coming into the fray and kicking the teen in the face, all four officers have been placed on administrative leave.
“It was really hard to watch. We got traumatized. We have, like, all of the video stuck in our head,” Melissa Navarette, the teen victim’s sisters, told CBSLA’s Kandiss Crone.
The incident happened at Dick’s Sporting Goods in the Glendale Galleria Saturday evening around 7 p.m.
A man who was shopping in the store when the events unfolded recorded the incident on his cellphone.
“The officer that wasn’t even there to begin with, that ran up on this situation, and as soon as he arrived, he just decided I’m going to kick this kid in the face,” the witness said.
The officers, some of whom were assigned to the mall, had received reports of petty theft in another part of the galleria.
“Officers responded and located a suspect matching the description and eventually contacted that suspect inside of the Dick’s Sporting Goods,” Sgt. Christian Hauptmann of the Glendale PD, said.
Civil rights attorney Connie Rice watched the video and said there’s little doubt the officers behavior goes against the training they received related to apprehending a suspect.
“This is worse than a rough arrest. I’ve seen better tactics and discipline in a barroom brawl,” Rice said. “Apparently he does not have a weapon. So, he’s not posing any kind of imminent threat of lethal force or bodily injury to anyone around him.”
The teen suffered injuries to both his eye and head. Family members of the victim hope the video reinforces the need for additional training and improved measures to prevent similar situations. In the meantime, though, the family said they’re focused on the teen’s recovery.
Police said they recovered stolen merchandise from the teen and arrested him for petty theft and resisting an officer by force.
Officials at the department also released a statement that said:
“The Glendale Police Department is aware of the video that captured an incident involving officers during an arrest at the Glendale Galleria Mall on June 5th, 2021. An investigation into the incident, including all actions taken by the officers during the arrest process, was immediately initiated and the officers involved have been placed on administrative leave while the investigation is being conducted. Glendale Police Officers are held to a high standard and we work hard to maintain the trust of our community. We take these types of incidents very seriously. Appropriate actions will be taken following the investigation.”