ACLU/SC executive director Ramona Ripston issued the following statement about a video uploaded to the website YouTube:

The ACLU of Southern California shares in the disgust at the video footage of two Los Angeles Police Department officers beating a suspect on the side of the road posted to popular website YouTube.com.

Californians are entitled to more transparency than a chance video. YouTube is not an acceptable substitute for accountability.

The footage, which came to light today, depicts two officers restraining William Cardenas in August as one officer holds his knee on the man's neck and punches his face several times as Cardenas can be heard yelling for help and that he cannot breathe. Public confidence is eroded when we discover such incidents by chance.

The ACLU has long advocated for increased police accountability in order to enhance public safety. The fact that this incident only came to light after being posted on a popular website dramatically illustrates how far we are from that ideal and that police reform still languishes.

The tools to prevent this conduct from ever happening and to identify problem officers are no mystery. The department is years behind in implementing the TEAMS II computer system, something mandated by a federal consent decree implemented in the wake of the Rampart police scandal. This early warning system would identify officers with problem records and cannot be delayed any longer. The public must have access to records of discipline imposed on officers, something that present California law keeps confidential.

The officers involved in this incident should be removed from the field while a thorough investigation is conducted.

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