Stories Differ in Rialto Beating of Gang Member - NBC Southern California

Stories Differ in Rialto Beating of Gang Member

Man's family claims police used excessive force during two arrests, but police say the man resisted and force was necessary



    The injuries sustained by an admitted gang member after being confronted by police officers twice are the source of controversy in Rialto, where authorities say Jesse Lopez punched an officer in the face while resisting arrest. His family claims the officers went too far. Jacob Rascon reports from Rialto for the NBC4 News at 6 on Monday, June 2, 2014. (Published Monday, June 2, 2014)

    The family of a man arrested twice in the last two weeks is claiming officers from the Rialto Police Department used excessive force during his arrest, leaving him battered and bruised.

    But police say Jesse Lopez is a documented gang member who ran from them and punched an officer in the face.

    Now, the police department’s Professional Standards Division says it will investigate the case.

    Two weeks ago, officers attempted to arrest Lopez for an outstanding warrant. They say he ran and resisted arrest, and some of his injuries may have come from falling off his bike. His family says Lopez was run off the road by police officers whose dashboard cameras were not working, or not turned on.

    Last Friday, Lopez was again arrested during a gang sweep. Police say he again tried to run, and allegedly assaulted an officer.

    But witnesses say the officers took it too far.

    “Just beating him, socking him, smashing his head on the floor,” said Mirna Zelay, who said she witnessed the incident. “Literally him on his back, just hammering at his head.”

    But police say the officers involved used necessary force.

    “This suspect actually punched an officer in the face, resulting in injuries,” said Capt. Randy DeAnda. “The officer, using the amount of force necessary to effect an arrest, also used force.”

    DeAnda also noted Lopez’s criminal record.

    “It should also be noted this suspect… is a self-admitted and documented gang member from the San Gabriel Valley,” DeAnda said. 

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