Video Showing La Mesa Man Arrested For Assault On Police Officer Going Viral As Many Believe Encounter To Be Racially Motivated

May 28, 2020

A video of a La Mesa man being detained and ultimately arrested is going viral, as many believe the officer was racially motivated.

The below video was originally posted on Instagram yesterday and now has 670,000 views on that platform alone. In the video, a La Mesa Police officer can be seen manhandling an individual near a trolley station and ultimately arresting him for assault on a police officer, although no such act can be seen. The arrested party claims in the video he was merely waiting for friends to pick him up. It is also interesting to note that the arrest is not listed on the City of La Mesa New Arrests Report for May 27 (we know the names of both the officer and the individual arrested but are not reporting to protect their privacy).

Yesterday's incident is hardly the first time the La Mesa Police Department has been the subject of controversy. In January 2018, a video emerged that captured School Resource Officer Scott Wulfing twice slamming a handcuffed 17-year-old female high school student. The student eventually filed a lawsuit, which settled in October 2019. An independent investigation ultimately concluded the officer did not use excessive force

This morning we reached out to representatives at the City of La Mesa and the La Mesa Police Department, including Mayor Mark Arapostathis, Vice Mayor Bill Baber and Councilmembers Kristine Alessio, Dr. Akilah Weber and Colin Parent, as well as Police Chief Vasquez. At this point, we received the following responses:

"I have seen the video and find it disturbing," wrote Councilmember Kristine Alessio. "You have my word that I will do everything possible to find out the truth regarding this event. Police misconduct has no place in our City, nor does and form of discrimination."

"Last night I was made aware of an incident involving one of our La Mesa Police Officers and an African American male," commented Councilmember Akilah Weber. "I immediately reached out to Chief Vasquez to request additional details concerning this incident. The initial statement from the La Mesa Police Department was released this morning. I look forward to the release of additional details from the La Mesa Police Department regarding this incident."

The La Mesa Police Department released the following statement about one hour after we contacted them:

"Statement Regarding Grossmont Trolley Station Incident on May 27th, 2020 - The La Mesa Police Department is aware of a video circulating on social media depicting an interaction between a police officer and a citizen at the Grossmont Trolley Station yesterday. We immediately began a review of the incident to find out what happened. The La Mesa Police Department takes all allegations of misconduct very seriously and asks that any member of the public with information or video regarding this incident contact us at (619) 667-1400."

The full video of yesterday's encounter is embedded below for convenience. The video contains foul language, so viewer discretion is advised.

This is a developing story and we will update this post as we learn more.