WESTMINSTER, CA (KCAL/KCBS/CNN) -- A police officer with the Westminster, California police department has been placed on leave after punching a handcuffed woman.
A cell phone video captured the woman handcuffed and on the ground as the officer repeatedly punched her. Officers said she was resisting arrest.
"They just get her up then push her back down,” said Sandy Armento, who recorded the incident. "I think she got hurt so she started obviously being aggressive."
Armento said she watched as 34-year-old Ciamara Garcia kicked the officer on the inner thigh.
"She kicked, but she didn't kick him the first time. She kicked like the second time right here,” Armento recalled. "That's when he reacted and punched her like right here."
Police said it all started when a neighbor argued with Garcia over her unleashed dog. The neighbor claimed Garcia got physical.
"She basically put her fist on her arm but didn't hit her. And that's when the Asian woman left and came back 20 minutes later with cops and like seven or eight cops showed up,” an unnamed witness said.
Garcia’s brother said police showed up at their home, calling her by name. "She's bipolar. She has schizophrenia,” Adolpho Rosales said. "I think they could do a better job since they already have history with her, they already know her."
Garcia faces charges of assault, being under the influence of a controlled substance, resisting arrest and assault on a police officer. The officer involved has been placed on paid leave.
The police department released the following statement: “The Westminster Police Department is well aware of portions of the video circulating on social media. We consider this a serious event and will ensure that this investigation will be guided by the law and the truth.”
Westminster police are working with the Orange County District Attorney’s Office to evaluate the officer’s use of force to determine if criminal charges may be filed.