A California police officer has been placed on administrative leave after he was filmed apparently punching a handcuffed woman twice in the face, according to police.
On April 21, police say they received a call alleging that 34-year-old Ciomara Garcia assaulted an Asian woman who tried to rescue a dog running in the street.
Officers said they found Garcia and learned she had an outstanding felony bench warrant for vandalism. She was handcuffed by officers.
Authorities said she exhibited “signs of being under the influence” and paramedics were called. As they waited for medics to arrive, Garcia was "not complaint" and “became combative," police said.
Video footage taken by a bystander shows Garcia falling to the ground after being handcuffed with her hands behind her back. She appears to kick one officer.
In the video, the officer, who has not been named and appeared to be kicked, then struck Garcia. He hit her "two times in the face with his fist," police said.
The footage then shows the other two officers immediately intervene and push him away from Garcia.
"When we opened the door, they're trying to put handcuffs on her, and she was resisting," Adolfo Rosales, who claimed to be Garcia’s brother, said to local ABC affiliate KABC. "They're walking her out, and when we got out of the walkway, that's when she started kicking their shins. That's when they threw her into the plants."
Garcia was taken to a nearby hospital for evaluation and no injuries were reported, according to police. She has been booked into Orange County Jail.
Police said an investigation of the officer’s use of force and the witness cellphone footage led them to place the officer on paid administrative leave pending an internal affairs investigation.
The Westminster Police Department said the Orange County District Attorney’s Office “will evaluate the officer’s use of force and determine if criminal charges are warranted.”
The department said it will also submit the charges against Garcia, including assault and battery and resisting arrest, to the DA's office. A lawyer for Garcia could not be immediately identified.
“The Westminster Police Department considers this a serious event and will ensure that this investigation will be guided by the law and the truth,” the department said in a statement.