Fermin Martinez and his partner Sylvia run the Los Polomos taco stand, and they say three times in one night, Los Angeles County health inspectors came to harass them for operating their business without a permit.
And Martinez believes his stand was targeted Saturday.
The LA County Public Health Department issued a statement saying the taco stand was in violation of state health and safety code and that one of their inspectors was assaulted, which led to police intervention.
“The county official was kicked, and our officer was kicked as well, when they tried to take the suspect into custody,” El Monte Police Chief David Reynosos said.
Reynoso says the department is investigating and watching body-worn cameras and social media posts, with Saturday's confrontation potentially leading to charges against the taco stand owners, which the chief says reached for an officer’s weapon.
"Shortly after, the same suspect grabbed the officer’s tazer and tried to take it from the officer,” Reynosos said.
Martinez says that’s not an accurate account of what happened at all.
The taco stand owner says when he was thrown to the ground, he thought police would kill him. From his own cell phone video, his arm can be seen outstretched towards the officer’s belt and the strikes it took to get Martinez to back down.
His partner, Sylvia, says she tried to break up the scuffle, injured herself in the melee. Now, she's afraid to return to work.
I'm afraid of the police, she said.
The owners say they understand they’re working without a permit, but they say that’s not going to stop them. They plan to be back again selling food Monday night, because if they don’t, they say they won’t be able to pay the rent.