Advertisement

San Bernardino County deputies seen on video punching, kneeing suspect in the head during arrest

San Bernardino County sheriff's deputies were captured on video kneeling on a man and striking him in the head during an arrest, an incident that has sparked public outrage and prompted authorities to place one deputy on leave and launch an internal investigation.

According to the Sheriff's Department, deputies from the Hesperia station responded to a reported armed robbery in the 16000 block of Main Street on Sunday. They later identified Christian Cardenas Alonso, 36, of Adelanto, as a suspect in the case.

At 4:51 p.m. Tuesday, investigators located and pulled over Alonso at the intersection of Main Street and E Avenue. Authorities say they attempted to arrest Alonso, but he resisted and "a use of force occurred."

In bystander video posted to social media, four sheriff's deputies can be seen kneeling on top of a man who is lying face down on the gravel outside a car. At one point, a plainclothes officer knees the man in the head multiple times.

Read more: Video shows deputies repeatedly punching man in headlock during violent arrest in East L.A.

Jesse Vega, a local car enthusiast and smog technician who took the video, happened to be filming Alonso's vehicle — a 1964 Chevrolet Impala — at the time.

"I've never seen somebody's eyes go black the way like [his] just bruised up that fast," Vega said. "His jaw at his right side was pretty swollen, his face looked like it was crooked."

San Bernardino County Sheriff Shannon Dicus said in a statement that a deputy seen striking Alonso has been place on administrative leave as the district attorney's office reviews the incident.

The district attorney's office did not respond to a request for comment Friday.

Read more: Video shows Long Beach police striking a suspect

After detaining Alonso, authorities said, they found items belonging to the victim of the armed robbery in his trunk. They subsequently searched his business — Califa Style Tattoo Ink, also in the 16000 block of Main Street — at around 5:45 p.m. Tuesday. There, investigators said they recovered a firearm, ammunition and unspecified gang paraphernalia and confronted individuals inside the tattoo shop who they allege were gang members.

In a statement, the Sheriff's Department also alleged that Alonso was an "active criminal street gang member."

Jesus Basulto, a tattoo artist who works at Califa Style Tattoo Ink, said he was about to take his 13-year-old daughter miniature golfing when deputies "came in by surprise" and pointed a gun at his child while they searched the business.

Basulto said there was "nothing gang-related" in his work and that he, Alonso and his coworkers are innocent.

"We are all here supporting our families," a confused and upset Basulto said in a phone interview. "We want to do something positive."

Read more: Trans man beaten and arrested by sheriff's deputy asks judge to be declared innocent

The shop has been closed since Tuesday out of fear of harassment from law enforcement, Basulto said. He also alleged that the deputies turned off surveillance footage of the shop's entry and falsified documentation claiming he was carrying a firearm during his arrest.

The Sheriff's Department said Sunday in a statement that "the case remains under investigation and nothing further is being released."

Basulto said he and other friends of Alonso planned to protest at the Hesperia sheriff's station Friday evening.

"All of them should be held accountable," he said.

Read more: Body-cam footage shows Palmdale sheriff's deputy punching a woman holding her baby

Next door to Califa Style Tattoo Ink, Damian Rodriguez was the manager on shift at Roll Over Beethoven's Music Store when deputies arrived. Rodriguez has worked at the music store for nine years and said Main Street "is just not that safe of a place," but that normal business has for the most part resumed on their block.

Rodriguez said that Califa Style Tattoo Ink was a newer tenant that opened two or three years ago and seemed to be doing pretty well.

"Whenever they have flash deals or anything, like most tattoo shops they were pretty packed," he said.

In that time, he said, he never experienced trouble with his neighbors. In passing, Rodriguez would wave hello while taking out the trash.

"All the employees there have been real cool and wonderful with us," he said.

Sign up for Essential California for news, features and recommendations from the L.A. Times and beyond in your inbox six days a week.

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.