Video footage has surfaced of an apparent attack on a trans man, who is shown being thrown to the floor by a police officer, allegedly over an air freshener hanging from his rear-view mirror.
The incident was captured by cameras in a 7-Eleven car park where the trans man Emmett Brock says he stopped his car after feeling concerned that he was being followed by a police car.
Brock was on the way home from work as a substitute teacher when he claims to have passed an officer “berating a woman of colour”.
His lawyer, Thomas Beck, described how Brock raised his middle finger to the officer Joseph Benza as he passed and was subsequently followed by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department (LASD) deputy.
Brock pulled into the lot in Whittier, about 20 miles from Los Angeles, and claims the police cruiser pulled in behind him, blocking him in.
He says he stepped out of the vehicle, as did Benza, who said: “Come here. I just stopped you”, to which Brock replied, “No you didn’t”.
Brosk says Benza then proceeded to grab him and throw him to the ground, hitting him a number of times.
Brock can be heard shouting in the footage, which dates from early February: “You’re going to f**king kill me”. He screams for help and repeatedly tells the officer he was not resisting.
He was placed in the back of the police car and charged with mayhem, causing serious injury to a deputy, resisting arrest and failing to obey a lawful order.
Brock was forced to the ground and proceeded to beg for help.
According to a police report, Benza initiated the traffic stop because he allegedly spotted an air freshener hanging from the rear-view mirror of Brock’s car which supposedly obstructed his view of the road.
“He must’ve punched him eight to 10 times in the head, maliciously,” Fox 11 quoted lawyer Beck as saying. “There was no reason for the contact. It was purely retaliatory.”
Beck says Brock will also bring a civil claim for the way in which he was treated by LASD staff.
When Brock explained that he is trans, staff reportedly asked to see his genitals before placing him in the women’s detention cell.
Fox 11 approached the LASD for comment and was told the department “takes all use of force incidents seriously”.
A statement read: “The department is investigating the information and allegations brought forward by Mr Brock and his attorney. We cannot comment any further at this time due to the pending litigation in this matter.”