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2 off-duty LAPD officers arrested for allegedly pistol-whipping man in Whittier [Updated]

January 27, 2010 |  8:37 am

Two off-duty Los Angeles Police Department officers have been arrested for allegedly pistol-whipping a man during a fight in Whittier, authorities said this morning.

One of the officers apparently got into an argument with his girlfriend about 8 p.m. Tuesday outside a Panera Bread restaurant in the 15600 block of Whittwood Lane, the Whittier Police Department said in a statement.

Witnesses told police the officer took issue with a bystander, who was watching the altercation while talking on his cellphone, and struck the man in the face. A fight ensued, during which one of the officers allegedly pulled out a handgun and began hitting the victim in the head, the statement said.

The victim was able to break free, but both off-duty officers chased after him and tackled him to the ground, where the assault continued, the statement said. The victim eventually escaped by running into a nearby Target store.

The victim was treated at the scene and taken to a hospital for further evaluation. The two officers were arrested for assault with a deadly weapon. They have been placed on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation, LAPD officials said.

The Whittier Police Department has identified the arrested officers as Brandon Valdez, 29, and Patrick Fitzgerald, 38.

[Updated, 4:03 pm: The officers were each released this morning on $30,000 bail.]

-- Alexandra Zavis and Andrew Blankstein

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