Los Angeles, CA - Vincent Velasquez, 29, was exercising his constitutional rights to film police officers in the course of their duties when the crime scene tape was being erected in a double murder/suicide case. Velasquez noticed the police were mistreating his neighbor, a grandfather, who lived at the home where the crime took place. The grandfather called police and asked for Torrance PD to respond but when Lomita Sheriff's Department arrived Velasquez witnessed Lomita deputies throwing the elderly grandpa in his 70's to the ground, pulling him around, yanking him around on his arms, and slamming him against the squad car even after they had him in cuffs.
Lomita Sheriff's Department noticed Velasquez filming and walked up onto Velasquez who back peddled to get away from the approaching officer. The officer told him he didn't have the right to record — which is a lie.
Velasquez told the officer the car wash video surveillance cameras were recording and pointed to them mounted on the wall as he was being intimidated and nervous. "I'll make up a charge if I have to," an unnamed sergeant promised Velasquez as he was pressing in on the neighbor who was simply trying to record the abuse the elderly citizen was experiencing.
The irate cop then knocked the phone out of Velasquez' hand, sending the expensive personal item to the ground. After the cop assaulted Velasquez, another officer came over and stepped on Velasquez' hand as he was trying to retrieve the phone which was later crushed, along with Velasquez' hand, under the weight of the officer's foot.
From ages 5 to 18, Velasquez tells TFTP that he had trained in Jujitsu with his family. He knew how to defend himself and could have easily taken the attacking officer to the ground. Instead, the young man continued to submit to the demands of the officers. But when he retrieved his phone, the Lomita officers on scene escalated their attack on Velasquez.
The first officer appeared to fall over his own feet to the ground. Two other officers already had a hold of Velasquez and wrangled him to the ground. Again, his only perceived crime was filming in public which is no crime at all and protected 1st Amendment speech.
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After getting on the ground, a female officer placed Velasquez in a choke hold and "choked out" the good citizen. He had been choked out before, 20-30 times, in his jujitsu training, and knew what had happened.
When he came to, he was being set up by cops who already had him in handcuffs. We took a look at all the video Velasquez made available to us. We cannot see at any point during the unwanted unwelcome police contact that Velasquez was resisting arrest. Instead, it is our opinion the Lomita officers were the aggressors, actually attacking a citizen they had targeted for a beat down, instigated by slapping a phone out of the hands of a concerned citizen."
If you hang onto someone's neck for 10-15 seconds you can kill someone. I counted 8 seconds before I blacked out. They weren't even applying a proper choke hold, they were just pulling on my neck. It was just all over the place," he told TFTP.
Velasquez was eventually charged with felony assault on a police officer for "kicking" the officer. Can you see Velasquez kick an officer? Instead, the officer was most likely injured when he clumsily fell over his two left feet. The act of falling down in front of his peers possibly gave his fellow boys and girls in blue the impression he was being attacked and a gaggle of cops descended on him.
"I've got a child. I manage the car wash. I don't attack officers. I'm a family man. That's not the lifestyle I live. I'm not a criminal. Not at all," he said.
After being lifted off the ground the cops bent him over a squad car where the irate officer told Velasquez he would "break his shoulders" and we can see from the footage he did, in fact, attempt to dislocate Velasquez shoulders for no reason at all. Remember, at this point, Velasquez was already in handcuffs, still being cooperative, and was walking without resistance to the cop's car.
Upon his arrest Velasquez was taken to jail where he bonded out. He is now facing felony charges and is looking for a lawyer. He wants to hire both a criminal attorney to get the charges dismissed and then a civil rights attorney to help him sue Lomita Sheriff's Department for violating his civil rights. Again, Mr. Velasquez was at the car wash where he worked, filming police allegedly abusing his elderly neighbor who had just witnessed his grandchildren murdered in front of his eyes. It is not a crime to film police officers. It is not a crime to stand up for one's civil rights, and it is not a crime to hold police officers accountable for their actions.