La Mesa

LMPD Officer Placed on Leave, Special Investigation Launched Following Controversial Arrest

The video, shared across Instagram Wednesday night, shows the tense moments during the arrest of a black man in San Diego’s La Mesa community

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The La Mesa Police Department in San Diego County has placed an officer on administrative leave after being involved in the controversial arrest of a black man that was caught on video near a trolley station.

The video, which is under review by the department and has prompt a special investigation, was posted to Instagram Wednesday night by a user named @lemthurdy with a caption that read, in part, “Police brutality in San Diego.” In less than 24 hours, the clip had amassed nearly 615,000 views.

NBC 7 has not independently verified the video. NBC 7 does not know what happened in the moments before the arrest, nor what the man in the video was arrested for.

In the video, the man being arrested is arguing with a La Mesa Police Department officer. The man tells the officer he was waiting for someone. The officer pushes the man onto a bench. More officers arrive.

The man is sitting on the bench, and the officer steps back and stands behind him.

About four-and-a-half minutes into the video, the man who is being arrested can be heard saying, “I already know what it is. I’m black as f*** out here. That’s what the issue is; it’s all good, I get it.”

NBC 7 does not know what happened after the camera stopped.

La Mesa City Councilmember Akilah Weber tweeted about the video Wednesday night.

“I was made aware of an incident involving one of our La Mesa Police Officers and an African American male,” Weber wrote. “I have spoken with Chief Vasquez and have requested additional details concerning this incident.”

La Mesa Mayor, Mark Arapostathis stated, "The City takes these matters very seriously, and consequently, in conjunction with the City Manager’s and City Attorney’s offices, has already begun the appropriate steps forward to investigate this matter thoroughly and take all necessary actions.”

“Right now, there is no question that the public is distrusting the police,” said former El Cajon Police Officer Kevin LaChapelle.

LaChapelle, who teaches criminal justice classes at National University, watched the video of the La Mesa incident and told NBC 7 the officer could have done a better job of “de-escalating” the situation.

“Police work is a very, very difficult job,” said LaChapelle,  “but police also have to understand that people have lost trust and when there’s a loss of trust you have to go even higher to build relationships, and you have to be careful in how you approach people and it’s not easy cause we’re all human.”

LMPD said the encounter between the officer and the man had taken place near the Grossmont Trolley Station. The police officer will be on leave pending the outcome of the investigation.

LMPD asks that any member of the public with information or video regarding this incident to contact them at (619) 667-1400.

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