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Four members of the Glendale Police Department in Los Angeles have been placed on administrative leave after a cop was caught on camera kicking a shoplifting suspect in the face as his colleagues tried to subdue the man with a flurry of their own punches.
The incident took place June 5, according to Glendale police, but the brutal arrest, captured on bystander video, was shared with local CBS affiliate KCAL9 on Tuesday. The nearly minute-long video shows a man on the ground at a Dick’s Sporting Goods at the Glendale Galleria Shopping Mall being pummeled in the face by two plainclothes officers assigned to patrol the mall, one of whom sat on top of him, as another plainclothes officer held down his legs.
When a fourth officer in uniform comes into the frame, he quickly kicks the man in the face. The man’s head slumps and he lies silently under the officers’ weight for a few seconds.
“Turn around on your face,” the officer orders as onlookers can be heard gasping.
“I can’t breathe, I can’t breathe, I can’t breathe! Stop, I can’t breathe!” the man says repeatedly as a second uniformed officer, then a third, comes into frame. “Get off of me, please!”
As the cops pin the man’s torso and legs to the ground with their knees and hands, one of the officers repeatedly asks him to stop resisting, and the suspect continues to verbalize that he can’t breathe. After a brief struggle, a fifth officer joins the group to help place handcuffs on the man, stand him up, and walk him away from the scene.
A spokesperson for the Glendale Police Department told VICE News’ that they’re currently investigating the arrest.
“An investigation into the incident, including all actions taken by the officers during the arrest process, was immediately initiated and the officers involved have been placed on administrative leave while the investigation is being conducted,” the department said in a statement. “We take these types of incidents very seriously. Appropriate actions will be taken following the investigation.”
The suspect was charged with resisting arrest and petty theft, according to Glendale police. A spokesperson for the department said they could not disclose the suspect’s condition while the investigation is ongoing.