Los Angeles

New Cellphone Video Shows LAPD Officer Accused of Excessive Force

An attorney for a man who won a settlement in an excessive force case by an off-duty LAPD officer released cellphone video from that encounter on Thursday.

The video shows then off-duty LAPD Officer Mario Cardona sitting on a cuffed Daniel Garza who lay face down on a grassy strip in unincorporated Los Angeles County in 2005.

"He told me he was going to break my (expletive) wrists if I didn't shut up," said Garza, a Cal State Los Angeles student.

The officer had accused Garza of kidnapping, a charge that was never levied on Garza. Garza claims the officer was upset because Garza had been dating the officer’s step-daughter.

"He told me, 'I'm gonna make you look like a little (expletive)' in front of everybody and he started twisting my wrist, causing tremendous pain."

Garza complained but the department said the officer's actions were "justified, lawful and proper."

But in a four-day court trial that ended last week, a federal jury awarded Garza $210,000. The jury also agreed with the LA City Attorney who found the officer acted with malice.

"How can the LAPD exonerate Officer Cardona, not discipline him and, yes, promote him since this incident while the City Attorney proved he acted maliciously in the very same incident?" said V. James DeSimone, Garza's attorney.

The LAPD wouldn't confirm Cardona's promotion. But the officer has a well-documented history with the department, including a 2006 Medal of Valor for killing a murder suspect in which Cardona was shot and wounded.

But Garza said that's a very different officer than the one he knows.

"It was the greatest pain I have ever felt in my life," he said. "It hurt so much that I could not hold in my screams."

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