The West Covina Police Department Wednesday responded to a video spread through social media of an officer's attempts to take a cellphone from a woman who insisted on recording him while in a vehicle that was stopped for having no license plates.
The encounter occurred about 10 a.m. on April 12 when the officer stopped the vehicle, which had a man and woman inside, police said.
"At some point during the stop the officer learned the male was a convicted arsonist, on probation and previously arrested for possession of a loaded firearm," according to West Covina Police Department Lt. Travis Tibbetts.
"The officer chose to investigate further by conducting a probation search of the vehicle. The officer requested the female and male to exit the vehicle. The male initially complied but later became agitated. The female passenger delayed exiting the vehicle and was recording the incident with a cellular phone."
The officer asked her to put down the phone and exit the vehicle "for officer safety reasons," Tibbetts said.
"When she refused to comply a confrontation occurred between the female and the officer," Tibbetts said.
The video recorded by the woman shows a scramble as the officer attempts to take the phone.
Both the man and the woman were cuffed as officers finished their investigation, at which point the two were released, Tibbetts said.
"A written complaint has been filed with the police department, which is currently being investigated," Tibbetts said. "The female passenger has since posted allegations of misconduct on social media.
"To the best of our knowledge, the alleged misconduct was not recorded on her cellular phone. The West Covina Police Department is releasing the dash camera footage from the police car, which is not consistent with the female's version of events.
"Furthermore, the male driver is a convicted felon with previous convictions for battery on a police officer, arson and being a convicted felon in possession of a loaded firearm."
The woman has given interviews insisting she had the right to record the encounter.