A California woman whose cellphone was snatched and kicked by a deputy U.S. marshal while she was recording law enforcement officers detaining several people plans to file a civil rights lawsuit against the officers and the city, her attorney said Tuesday.
Beatriz Paez said she feared for her life when an armed marshal threw her cellphone and stomped on it and kicked it Sunday while she was out for a walk in South Gate.
She said she saw several officers from various law enforcement agencies pointing their weapons at the heads of several people lying on their stomachs on a lawn with their hands behind their backs.
She said that when the marshal approached her she only had a few seconds to react.
"I thought he was going to beat me up," Paez said. "He yanked it and then he threw it on the ground. He stomped on my phone with his boots several times until he destroyed it."
She managed to salvage the phone's subscriber identification module and is trying to recover the video. The confrontation was caught on a 53-second video taken by someone across the street and posted on YouTube.
The woman who filmed the confrontation, who did not want to be identified, said the experience was so terrifying she decided to stop filming.
"It was despicable," she said. "It was uncalled for. When he snatched the phone away from her it actually startled me. I got scared. I had to stop recording because it was just too scary. This is a big man coming towards you with a big gun."
Paez's attorney, Colleen Flynn, said she plans to file a federal civil rights lawsuit.
"There was some police activity going on," Flynn said. "My client was in no way interfering with that police activity. As long as you're not interfering, you absolutely have a right to film police in public."
Officials from the U.S. Marshals Service and the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department are reviewing the video.
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The incident took place as officers from multiple agencies responded to a report of a biker gang meeting at a bar in South Gate, sources confirmed to NBC News Investigations.
Mekahlo Medina and Gadi Schwartz contributed to this report.