Ten Los Angeles police officers have now been taken off the street and assigned to desk duties pending internal investigations into their actions during recent protests, the Los Angeles Police Department said Wednesday.
Those investigations are among dozens that have been launched by the LAPD amid a wave of criticism for officers’ forceful and at times violent response to protests over recent police killings of Black people, including George Floyd in Minneapolis.
The LAPD has not described the specific actions of the 10 officers removed from field duty, though Chief Michel Moore has said that several were involved in a recorded incident in which officers surrounded and smashed the window of a car in Van Nuys after a citywide curfew had gone into effect.
Moore said those officers’ actions concerned him enough to sideline them pending a full investigation into the circumstances. But he also said the department has not passed judgment on the officers.
As of Wednesday, no Los Angeles officers had been charged criminally or formally punished by the department for their conduct during the protests, despite widespread allegations of excessive force being used against peaceful protesters and other bystanders.
Capt. Gisselle Espinoza, an LAPD spokeswoman, said that to date, the department had received 74 complaints against officers, about 40 of them alleging excessive force.
The department also has been sued by Black Lives Matter and other civil liberties advocates for its tactics against protesters, and by a woman who said she was shot in the face with a police projectile while in her car near a protest.
The department’s independent inspector general has solicited complaints about police abuses, though protest advocates have warned that people with potential claims against the police would be better served finding an attorney than relying on another city agency to air their grievances.
A Times review of the LAPD’s response to the protests revealed many protesters were injured by officers swinging batons and shooting foam bullets and beanbag rounds, including in ways that appeared to violate department policies for the use of such weapons.
Some protesters were shot in the head, others in the testicles. One had a tooth shot out. Many others suffered minor injuries.
Several members of the City Council cited The Times’ review in a motion filed Wednesday that calls on the department to be transparent about its investigations, whatever findings are reached and what punishments, if any, are dealt to officers found to have used excessive force.
“As these investigations proceed, the residents of the City deserve to understand the full scope of these reviews, and what disciplinary actions will be taken against officers who are found to have used excessive force against peaceful protesters or otherwise violated department policy when responding to these demonstrations,” wrote council members Marqueece Harris-Dawson, Curren D. Price Jr. and Herb J. Wesson Jr.
Espinoza said a special task force of dozens of internal affairs officers has been given the sole task of reviewing the complaints that have been filed and are “trying to expedite the investigations.”
However, she also said that such investigations can take up to a year.