Los Angeles, CA – A Los Angeles police officer’s use of force is being reviewed by the department, after bodycam footage showed him holding a combative woman by the throat during an altercation in January (video below).
The incident occurred in the Devonshire Division at approximately 2:40 p.m. on Jan. 6, after officers received a report of a vandalism in the 21500-block of Lassen Street, Los Angeles Police Lieutenant Kevin Brawner said in the video release.
“I’ve got a resident busting out all her windows and threatening the neighbor next door,” the 911 caller said in the audio recording. “I went and talked to her, and she said ‘call the police – I’m waiting for them.’”
The caller said that the woman, later identified as 23-year-old Kellie Millard, was also throwing items out of the window of the home.
An LAPD sergeant was first to arrive at the scene.
Bodycam footage showed him as he got out of his patrol vehicle and made contact with Millard and a second suspect, 24-year-old Carlos Mejia.
“Have a seat right there,” the sergeant told them, as the suspects continued walking. “Have a seat, or you’re going to get sprayed.”
“Oh yeah? You’re going to spray me?” Millard retorted.
The sergeant confirmed that she had heard him correctly, and repeated the command once more.
“Why don’t you f–king shut the f–k up?” she asked.
The sergeant radioed for backup, then turned his attention back to the suspects.
“You don’t f–king command me like that, b—h!” Millard yelled at him. “Shut the f–k up.”
The sergeant ordered her to turn around, but the confrontational woman told him to turn around instead.
“You’re going to get arrested for something stupid,” he warned her.
Millard refused to comply, and told the sergeant that he was going to be arrested for “coming at” her.
She argued that she had done nothing wrong.
“I didn’t threaten no f–king neighbors you little b—h,” she snarled at him. “You’re not even a cop, b—h. I’m walking away.”
As Millard tried to walk around the sergeant, he swiftly deployed a burst of OC spray into her face and took her to the ground, bodycam footage showed.
The suspect continued to fight and curse at the sergeant, at which point Mejia tried to jump into the melee.
The sergeant deployed a burst of OC spray at Mejia, who abruptly abandoned his attempt to help Millard, the video showed.
The combative woman continued to fight with the sergeant, knocking his glasses to the pavement during the scuffle.
The lone sergeant struggled to gain control of Millard, and placed one hand on her throat as he fought his way off of the ground, the video showed.
“I’m going to shoot you,” he warned the screaming woman, who finally told him that she would stop fighting.
The sergeant’s bodycam fell to the ground a moment later, but still captured audio of the altercation.
“I can’t breathe!” Millard repeatedly yelled, as the sergeant radioed for backup yet again.
The sergeant had to continually tell Millard to stop fighting, even after additional units arrived at the scene.
“If you can talk, you can breathe,” one of the officers told her.
“I have asthma!” she fired back. “I have a heart murmur…I’m a woman!”
Millard and Mejia were both taken into custody.
Although Millard had no prior criminal history, she did have two previous contacts with the LAPD’s Mental Evaluation Unit, according to Lt. Brawner
Millard and the sergeant were transported to a local hospital, where they were treated and released.
Mejia was later convicted of one count of resisting arrest, and Millard was convicted of battery with injury on a police officer.
“This particular incident was originally not classified as a categorical use of force,” Lt. Brawner explained. “However, review of the incident by the chief of police has determined that the way in which the officer held the suspect’s throat constitutes that level of force.”
The department has since opened an investigation into the incident.
The Critical Incident Review Division’s findings will be forwarded to the LAPD chief of police, who will then make his recommendations to the Civilian Board of Police Commissioners, Lt. Brawner explained.
The Office of the Inspector General will also conduct its own review of the incident, and those finding will also be forwarded to the civilian board.
The board will determine whether or not the officer’s use of “deadly force” was justified, Lt. Brawner said.
You can watch bodycam footage of the officer’s encounter with Millard and Mejia in the video below: