Beverly White, David Gregory
A CHP officer was on leave as officials investigate a video in which the officer repeatedly punched a woman on the side of the 10 Freeway. Beverly White reports from West Adams for the NBC4 News at 11 on Friday, July 7, 2014.
CORRECTION: The CHP confirmed to NBC4 on July 7 that the officer in the video is on desk duty, not on paid administrative leave, as stated in earlier articles.
A California Highway Patrol officer was on desk duty Friday as investigators began looking into an incident that was captured on video in which the officer threw a woman to the ground and repeatedly hit her in the head on the side of the 10 Freeway.
Cellphone video posted to YouTube on Wednesday shows the officer pinning the woman on her back and quickly striking her about a dozen times as she shielded her face.
CHP officials said the officer was responding to a call about a pedestrian on the freeway and that the woman was "unresponsive" as the officer tried to stop her. The video shows the officer trying to grab the woman’s arm as she appears to resist.
"We will leave no stone unturned," said CHP Assistant Chief Chris O'Quinn during a news conference Friday afternoon. "We’re looking at every possibility, every fact, every circumstance that contributed to this situation and we’re going to try to come to a just conclusion to why it occurred."
The incident, partly captured on video by a driver who was entering the freeway, took place Tuesday on the eastbound 10 Freeway near La Brea Avenue.
O'Quinn said the woman crossed lanes of traffic, "endangering herself and the motoring public."
CHP officials did not identify the officer or the woman. They said she was not hurt in the incident and being held for a mental health evaluation.
"What it looked like to me is what I refer to oftentimes as contempt of cop, and that is when you make me mad, you’re going to pay. And so it looked to me what he was doing was more about punishment," said Cheryl Dorsey, a retired Los Angeles police sergeant who used to investigate allegations of misconduct.
Activists believe the woman is homeless, possibly from an encampment near the 10 Freeway.
"Even in my wildest imagination, I could not come up any justification for punching a woman like that," said activist Jasmyne Cannick.
O’Quinn said he expected the multilevel investigation to be completed in the following weeks.
"We will do the right thing with regard to dealing with the employee or the member of the public in accordance with the law and policy," he said.
Kim Baldonado contributed to this report.