WPD officer is placed on leave

THE WESTMINSTER Police Department building. (File photo).

An incident Wednesday in Westminster resulted in a woman being arrested and a police officer being placed on administrative leave.

According to a press release issued by the WPD Thursday afternoon, it all began around 4 p.m. in the 14100 block of Locust Street. Police responded to a report of a woman assaulting another woman who was trying to rescue a dog running in the street.

Officers identified the suspect as Ciomara Garcia, 34, of Westminster.  Police learned she had an outstanding felony bench warrant for vandalism. They detained her and handcuffed her.

CELL PHONE video shows a Westminster police officer (foreground) punching a suspect in the face twice.

According to the WPD, Garcia “exhibited signs of being under the influence” and paramedics were called.  Police say she was “not compliant” and became “combative” with officers.

A WPD officer used force and reportedly struck the suspect twice in the face with his fist. Two other Westminster police officers intervened and deescalated the situation. Garcia was taken to a nearby hospital for evaluation and was later booked into Orange County Jail on the warrant.

“No injuries were reported,” according to the press release.

A cell phone video of the incident, later posted on social media, was provided to WPD supervisors. The officer in question was immediately placed on paid administrative leave pending an internal affairs investigation.

The WPD and Orange County District Attorney’s office are evaluating the use of force by the officer to determine if criminal charges are warranted, according to the release.

Garcia faces criminal charges of assault and battery, being under the influence of a controlled substance, resisting arrest and assault on a police officer.


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