The Hawthorne Police Department confirms that it's investigating one of their own after a suspected rough arrest may have blinded a man in one eye.
Rafael Salgado fears being a family burden and unable to return to his job at UCLA's Transportation Department. On May 3, he suffered an eye injury while in police custody.
"He shoved me against the wall where there were some lockers and a key punched right into my eye, went inside my eye...gave me a laceration inside my eye," said Salgado.
Salgado's lawyer Wesley Ouchi filed a claim for damages against the city of Hawthorne, the police chief, three officers, and two jailers, alleging assault, battery, and civil rights violations.
Get Southern California news, weather forecasts and entertainment stories to your inbox. Sign up for NBC LA newsletters.
Ouchi says the incident was caught on camera and police showed him the video.
"When this officer shoved my client face-first into the lockers, one of the keys sticking out pierced through his eyelid, punctured, and lacerated his entire eye, from one side of the cornea to the other," explained Ouchi.
Hawthorne police have not released the video to the public but issued a statement:
Get Los Angeles's latest local news on crime, entertainment, weather, schools, COVID, cost of living and more. Here's your go-to source for today's LA news.
"We are aware of the accident which occurred while Mr. Salgado was in our custody, during which he suffered an injury to his right eye. The city has been in communication with Mr. Salgado's attorney regarding this."
"In addition, an administrative investigation into the circumstances of this incident has been initiated. We are unable to comment further due to pending litigation."
Ouchi says this was no accident and police took seven hours to get Salgado to the right hospital.
"They didn't want to give me any medical attention, making fun of me. Saying I was being a crybaby. I said, 'no, I'm really in pain'," Salgado stated.
"We plan on moving forward with a federal civil rights lawsuit if this case can't be resolved with the city," said Ouchi.
The single dad says he wants the officers held accountable, and so do his children.
"It's just not fair. They should be protecting us, not hurting us," said Salgado's daughter, Frances Salgado.
Salgado was arrested that day for misdemeanor domestic violence and given a citation. His lawyer says that the matter rests with the city prosecutor who placed a stay/hold on the investigation.