The San Diego County District Attorney is declining to file felony charges against a man who was punched by police officers during an arrest, according to a letter sent to the local NAACP branch.
District Attorney Cheryl Sueing-Jones said law enforcement contacted her office about possible charges but she is “declining to issue felony charges against the gentleman who was arrested.”
“But we are referring the case to the City Attorney for independent review,” she said in an email addressed to branch president Francine Maxwell.
The email was obtained by NBC affiliate KNSD of San Diego.
Sueing-Jones wrote that Internal Affairs is handling the investigation into the officers’ conduct and if a case is submitted to her office, they “will evaluate to determine if evidence exists to prove charges beyond a reasonable doubt.”
Police spokesman Lt. Shawn Takeuchi said that two officers who were on patrol Wednesday “witnessed a man urinating in public” and attempted to speak with him.
“The man would not stop to speak with officers therefore an officer held the man to detain him,” Takeuchi said in a statement Thursday. “Despite the officers repeatedly telling the man to ‘stop resisting,’ the man would not comply. One of the officers struck the man several times.”
Video of the arrest shows one officer holding the man when a second police officer lunges forward and grabs the man. The two officers roughly take the man to the ground and a struggle ensues.
One of the officers appears to punch the man several times in the face, the video shows. The man appears to grab something from the officer and throws it on the ground. The video also shows him appearing to hit the officer in the face.
The officers are heard repeatedly telling the man to “stop resisting” and “get your hands behind your back.” The other police officer also appears to strike the man in the leg.
Police have not identified the officers involved and did not name the man who was being arrested.
Nicole Bansal, 34, of La Jolla, said she recorded the video from her car after she recognized the man as a vagrant who is often seen in the neighborhood.
“I see him around all the time. He’s harmless. He’s just homeless,” she previously told NBC News. “He’s very easy to recognize because he always has a big orange life vest on.”
The man was taken to the hospital following his arrest. After he was released, he was booked on charges of resisting arrest and battery of a police officer.
San Diego police did not immediately return NBC News’ request for comment.
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