LAPD Officer Charged With Assault in 2014 Robbery Suspect Beating

LOS ANGELES (CNS) - A Los Angeles police officer was charged today with assault under color of authority for allegedly using unlawful force during the 2014 arrest of a robbery suspect in South Los Angeles.

Richard Garcia, 34, pleaded not guilty to the charge in a downtown courtroom. He is scheduled to return to court June 1, when a date is expected to be set for a hearing to determine whether there is sufficient evidence to proceed to trial.

Prosecutors said Garcia attacked then 22-year-old Clinton Alford Jr., who was arrested Oct. 16 near 55th Street and South Avalon Boulevard because he matched the description of a robbery suspect.

After running from police, Alford surrendered but Garcia assaulted him as he lay on the ground, according to the District Attorney's Office. Alford's attorney, Caree Harper, contends that Alford was on the ground being restrained by other officers when an officer kicked and stomped on him, then repeatedly struck him in the head and body.

The arrest was captured by a nearby surveillance camera, according to Harper.

Police Chief Charlie Beck said at the time that he was "extremely concerned about this particular use of force." The four officers involved in Alford's arrest and a sergeant who later arrived at the scene were relieved of duty with pay during the investigation, the Los Angeles Times reported. Prosecutors said Garcia has been placed on administrative leave and that the case remains under investigation.

If convicted as charged, Garcia faces up to three years in county jail. Alford has already filed a lawsuit against the city over the arrest, and recently accused police of harassing him ever since he filed the case.

According to Harper, prosecutors dropped all charges against Alford. She has been pushing Beck to release the video of the arrest in the name of transparency.

Alford and Harper plan to hold a late-afternoon news conference to discuss the charge against Garcia.

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