An Orange County Sheriff’s deputy is seen in stunning dashcam footage appearing to repeatedly punch a man in the face during an arrest in August – but the police department is defending the deputy, saying he “used force appropriate for the situation.”
Deputies said they found Mohamed Sayem in his car on Aug. 19 in the parking lot of the Corner Pocket Bar in Stanton, Calif., after a concerned citizen called authorities about a man sleeping in a vehicle, CBS Los Angeles reported.
The deputies asked Sayem for his identification, but he did not hand it over, the Los Angeles Times reported. Court records stated Sayem appeared intoxicated and gave “a number of partially understandable answers, statements and insults — often chuckling and falling in the car as he delivered them."
One of the deputies said he put his hand on Sayem after he placed his leg out of his car, and Sayem yelled at the deputy before the officer grabbed him and tried to get him out of the car. The deputy then punched Sayem in the face several times, the video shows.
Sayem fell to the ground and asked: "You going to shoot me?"
His attorney, Scott Sanders, said Sayem “suffered injuries to his head and knees” during the fracas.
Sayem is facing a “felony resisting arrest charge" for the incident. Sanders said one of the deputies involved “fictionalized key details” of the confrontation and changed other information about his story, the Los Angeles Times reported.
“Don’t create a new false set of facts and then blame it on the defendant,” Sanders told CBS Los Angeles. “There should be no punches to the face. He was incredibly intoxicated. There was no reason for force or violence here."
The Orange County Sheriff’s Department defended the deputy in a statement, saying he “made every attempt to de-escalate the situation.”
“The deputy...provide[ed] the subject multiple opportunities to simply provide his identification," the statement read. "The subject refused to do so and attempted to physically engage the deputy, during which the deputy used force appropriate for the situation to gain control of an uncooperative, assaultive and intoxicated person."
The statement added: "The deputy's report is consistent with the video in its entirety, and charges were filed by the OC District Attorney's office. Any assertion otherwise substantially misrepresents the facts, and serves only to swell an anti-law enforcement narrative."