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SMPD: Officer's actions during physical altercation caught on video were 'appropriate'

Posted at 5:31 PM, Aug 11, 2019
and last updated 2019-08-12 15:52:00-04

UPDATE (Monday 12 p.m.) - The Santa Maria Police Department says it has reviewed the short video showing a physical altercation between an officer and suspect Saturday night.

Police say they believe the officer's actions were appropriate based on the circumstances.

The video circulating on social media only shows seconds of a minutes-long incident, according to police, who say the reporting ranger first called for assistance when a man was fighting with him near the transit center.

Police say the man was still resistive when officers arrived and even punched an officer in the face.

Police say despite rumors on social media, there is no investigation underway involving police brutality in connection with the incident, which did lead to an arrest.

The City has not commented on the condition of the reporting ranger who later suffered a medical emergency but has said he was not involved in a physical altercation.

UPDATE (10 p.m.) - A Santa Maria City ranger was hospitalized Saturday night after suffering a medical emergency while on the job, but police say the incident had nothing to do with a physical altercation captured in part on video that is now circulating on social media.

Santa Maria police say at around 9 p.m., the ranger called for assistance in contacting a man in the area of the Santa Maria Transit Center, located on the 400 block of E. Boone Street.

Santa Maria Police Sgt. Nate Totorica tells KSBY that officers and another ranger arrived on scene and made contact with the man in question while the reporting ranger then left the scene.

It was at that time Totorica says the suspect ignored orders to stop and “physically resisted.”

An altercation took place, which can be seen in part on a seven-second video circulating on social media.

The short video appears to show a Santa Maria police officer involved in a physical altercation with a person while a ranger stands by, but does not show the incidents leading up to or after the altercation.

The man was eventually arrested, according to Totorica, on suspicion of resisting arrest and drug charges.

Police say they do not know the specifics of why the ranger originally requested assistance, but did say it's common for rangers to request assistance when making contact with citizens.

Once that incident had wrapped up, Totorica says the reporting ranger arrived back on the scene and it was at that time he suffered the medical emergency.

Officers and the other ranger “took immediate medical action,” according to Totorica, who confirms that the ranger seen in the video is the second ranger.

The condition of the ranger who suffered the medical emergency has not been released. A spokesperson for the Santa Maria, Mark van de Kamp, says the City is prohibited from releasing medical information due to privacy laws.

The City confirmed the reporting ranger was never involved in a physical altercation.

ORIGINAL STORY: A Santa Maria City ranger was hospitalized Saturday night after suffering a medical emergency while on the job.

It reportedly happened at or near the transit center located on the 400 block of E. Boone Street.

City officials have declined to provide further information on his condition citing medical privacy laws but Santa Maria Recreation and Parks Department Director Alex Posada tells KSBY News the ranger was “not involved in a physical altercation.”

However, another ranger was reportedly involved in an incident in the same area Saturday around 9 p.m.

A short video now circulating on social media appears to show a Santa Maria police officer involved in a physical altercation with one person in the area of Boone and Miller Streets, near the transit center.

A city park ranger is also seen standing nearby in the video.

The approximately 7-second video does not show the events leading up to or after the altercation.

Posada tells KSBY News that incident caught on video resulted in an arrest but declined to provide details. He stated only that a ranger was involved in the arrest made by SMPD.

The ranger is not the same as the one who suffered the medical emergency, according to Posada; however, it is unclear if there is a connection between the ranger’s medical issue and the subsequent arrest.

KSBY News has been unable to verify the authenticity of the video despite repeated calls to SMPD on Sunday.

This story will be updated as information becomes available.