SOUTH GATE, Calif. – The U.S. Marshals Service said Tuesday that it's reviewing a video that shows a deputy grab a woman's cellphone from her hands, smashes it to the floor, and kicks it down the street.
In the 53-second video (http://bit.ly/1FcghHT ) posted on YouTube on Sunday, a woman on the sidewalk appears to be filming officers with her cellphone and making comments when a deputy U.S. Marshal charges at her.
The video was spotted by a South Gate police officer because its caption mentioned the department, and an investigation ensued, Capt. Darren Arakawa said.
No South Gate police were involved in the incident, which has generated dozens of phone calls and email complaints to him and the department's chief from across the United States, Arakawa said. His officers were securing the area Sunday for an ongoing taskforce operation related to the Mongols Motorcycle Club, he said.
There was no complaint initiated by the woman involved to police, Arakawa said. But he noted "we have an obligation to look at it and that's exactly what we did."
"We really want to put it out there, because we have to explain to people, to residents, that this wasn't a police officer," Arakawa said. "We keep getting these emails suggesting that we're corrupt. I think it's an isolated incident that does justify some sort of investigation."
The U.S. Marshals service declined to comment further on the video aside from confirming in a statement that their deputy was involved and that the matter was under review.
Hector Villagra, executive director of the ACLU of Southern California, said he was "deeply disturbed" by the video.
"There is no situation in which an officer can intentionally grab and destroy a camera being used to lawfully record law enforcement," Villagra said. "The officer's conduct is a blatant and deliberate violation of the Constitution and his duties as an officer to abide by the law."