LOS ANGELES - A Los Angeles County Sheriff's Deputy has been "relieved of duty" for allegedly punching a mother in the face while she was holding her three-week-old baby in her arms during an arrest in Palmdale last summer, Sheriff Robert Luna announced Wednesday.
Luna held a press conference Wednesday to discuss the release of body camera footage from the incident released earlier in the day. In the video a deputy is seen punching a mother while other deputies take her weeks-old child from her arms.
The arrest reportedly happened about one year ago, on July 14, 2022, in Palmdale. According to Luna, the video showed what happened during a traffic stop after deputies pulled over a car that was driving at night without the lights on. Luna said that the driver, only described as a man, was driving with a suspended license, and that three of the four women in the car were holding their infant children instead of using car seats.
The video released shortly after 5 p.m. Wednesday is from the body camera of one of the involved deputies. The roughly eight-minute video begins around 12:30 a.m. that night, with one woman sitting cross-legged on the street, clutching her young child to her chest. At the outset, the woman and the deputies are discussing taking the child from the woman.
"Do you want me to grab the baby or are you gonna hand the baby over nicely," one deputy is heard asking, adding later, "I don't want to have to snatch her and have my partner grab your arms."
The woman sitting on the ground cried asking deputies to let her keep her child.
The conversation continued that way for several minutes — deputies explaining that they had to take the child while the mother pleaded for them not to — before several deputies forcibly took the child from her, while she shrieked. Other deputies then took her away, while the deputy wearing the body camera moved to another interaction with a separate woman and her baby.
This scene was similar, the mother saying to deputies "You'll have to shoot me dead before you take my baby." As deputies again went in to attempt to take the baby from the mother, she yelled "My baby's three weeks old. You're going to hurt [them]."
As the mother pushed back against deputies, another deputy, seen barely in the background, reared back and punched the mother several times in the face.
The video ended with the second woman being put in handcuffs.
When asked why this video was released now, Luna said that the incident had been brought to his attention over the weekend by one of his area chiefs who was reviewing the video.
"I found the punching of the woman in these circumstances completely unacceptable," Luna said. He added that while state law keeps him from going into the specifics of any discipline against the deputy seen throwing the punches, he was "relieved of duty," simply meaning that he'd been taken out of the field. Luna said he "directed our Professional Standards Division to refer this incident to the District Attorney's Office for criminal consideration," and that the FBI's Los Angeles office will also be reviewing the incident.
The department did not identify the deputy who threw the punches, the other deputies involved, or the women seen in the video. Luna also said that there is currently an investigation into the deputy who through the punches regarding any other potential use of force incidents during his tenure.
"I still believe this is an isolated incident that was committed by an individual that will be held accountable," Luna said.
Black Lives Matter activists claim the deputy seen punching the woman had other complains against him in the past but were ignored. LASD did not provide a comment in response to the allegation.
BLM-LA co-founder Melina Abdulla tells FOX 11 the woman's child is in DCFS custody. The department have not formally confirmed Abdulla's report.