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Westminster Police Officer Uses Excessive Force on Handcuffed Woman

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A Westminster police officer was put on paid administrative leave after punching a restrained woman twice during an arrest on April 21. The officer was recorded using excessive force while the woman resisted arrest. 

According to a press release from the Westminster Police Department (WPD), authorities were called to the scene at approximately 4 p.m. after an adult Hispanic woman reportedly assaulted an adult Asian woman who attempted to rescue a dog running in the street. 

Three officers responded to the call at the 14100 block of Locust St. Upon arrival, officers discovered that the suspect, Ciomara Garcia, had an “outstanding felony bench warrant” for vandalism.

As Garcia was handcuffed and being escorted out of her home, she kicked an officer, which resulted in an escalation of conflict.  

“[The officers] just get [Garcia] up then push her back down,” bystander and witness Sandy Armento said to KMOV.

Armento said Garcia started to be more aggressive towards the officers after getting hurt. 

In a video of the incident recorded by Armento, one of the officers can be seen punching the 35-year-old Garcia twice as she became more agitated, while two officers held her down. After the officer punched the woman, his fellow officers held him back.

Garcia was reportedly under the influence while being detained and handcuffed. The officers have not been identified.

According to her brother Adolfo Rosales, Garcia has been diagnosed with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder — which cops were reportedly aware of, although it has not been confirmed by authorities.

It is unknown if the attack on the Asian woman that prompted the 911 call was racially motivated, given the recent increase in violence directed at the Asian American community over the last several months.

After the incident, Garcia was taken to a nearby local hospital where no injuries were reported

She was booked into Orange County jail, due to her standing warrant. According to the press release by the WPD, Garcia is also facing potential charges of assault and battery from her interaction that prompted the authorities, as well as charges for being under the influence of a controlled substance, resisting arrest and assaulting a police officer.

“The Westminster Police Department considers this a serious event and will ensure that this investigation will be guided by the law and the truth,” the press release stated in regards to the officers’ behavior.

It is unclear if any other disciplinary action has been taken against the police officers who responded to the incident.

Henry Lopez is a City News intern for the spring 2021 quarter. He can be reached at henryel@uci.edu.