Southern California -- this just in

« Previous Post | L.A. NOW Home | Next Post »

Baca says deputy who struck woman in video may need retraining

January 11, 2012 |  4:03 pm

Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca says the sheriff's deputy who was captured on video striking a woman on a Metro bus will be held accountable for his actions, but stopped short of saying he should be disciplined.

"If the individual deputy who swung an elbow at the lady is looking at that as a sensible solution, we need to retrain that individual," he told Ed Mertz of KNX-AM (1070) in an interview Wednesday.

In the video, a female deputy holds the woman from behind while her partner appears to deliver a sweeping blow to the left side of her face. It's unclear whether he strikes her with his fist or right forearm.

The man who recorded the video told NBC-TV Channel 4 that the woman was polite and friendly toward the other passengers as she boarded the bus. He said she started cursing at the deputies when they asked her to get off.

Authorities said the deputies boarded the bus in Bellflower on Monday night after somebody called 911 to report an out-of-control woman. 

Deputies knew the woman and were aware that she had four prior convictions for assaulting a police officer, said sheriff's spokesman Steve Whitmore.

Baca said the woman was causing problems on the bus and was known to have a history of mental illness.

“That doesn’t justify anything that’s wrong though," he said.

The department has opened a use-of-force investigation. When asked if Baca thought the deputy used excessive force, he said it depends on the circumstance.

"I think we have to look at what his threat level was when that occurred," he said.  "And then from there we can make that determination."


AUDIO: 911 caller says woman was 'trying to pick a fight'

Deputy's clash with bus rider generates more questions

Confrontation between sheriff's deputies, bus rider caught on tape

-- Angel Jennings and Alan Zarembo

Video: Courtesy of KNBC-TV Channel 4