Cathedral City officials on Tuesday filled in some of the missing information surrounding a video that was posted on social media last week showing a city police officer administering multiple blows to a motorist who was already being detained by fellow officers.
Responding to follow-up questions after a short statement issued by City Manager Charles McClendon on Monday, a city spokesperson offered clarity around who the officer was, how he separated from the department, and the status of an investigation into the incident from two years ago.
According to city officials, the officer seen in the video administering multiple baton blows to a motorist being held on the ground, Jeffrey Aguirre, was not suspended when the incident happened, but an internal affairs investigation started the day of the incident concluded his use of force was “excessive.” Aguirre is no longer with Cathedral City Police Department (CCPD), but officials did not give a reason why.
In the video, the motorist is being arrested for suspicion of felony evading, assault with a deadly weapon (his vehicle), resisting arrest, reckless driving, and violation of probation. The incident began on Nov. 21 2020 at around 3 a.m. when officers attempted to pull the man over for vehicle code violations. According to authorities, when he did not stop the vehicle, police started a pursuit. That pursuit ended when the man allegedly crashed his vehicle into a patrol car.
The man was treated at a hospital for his fracture, then transported to jail. The city does not know where he is now, but he does have an active felony warrant. He is not pursuing legal action against the department or the former officer.
“The City is aware of an incident circulating on social media that occurred in November 2020 and involved a use of force by a former officer with the department,” City Manager Charles McClendon said in a written statement Monday. “The incident was investigated thoroughly by the department’s internal affairs division and the use of force was also reported to the California Department of Justice in February 2021.
“Because this is a personnel matter I can’t discuss details of the investigation. At the request of the Police Department the matter is also being reviewed by the Riverside County District Attorney’s Public Integrity Unit.”
City officials say they requested an independent investigation by the District Attorney’s office on Nov. 14 of this year and the investigation is still in progress. Independent investigations like that are not standard for use of force incidents, according to a city official.
The video was posted by a Reddit user on Dec. 1, then reposted to Twitter where it has attracted a wide audience. Commenters from across the country took to CCPD’s Facebook page to ask for more information. They also mistakenly thought the officer in the video was a detective currently employed with the department, and flooded the Facebook page with comments asking for him to be fired.
The body camera footage was released by the department last month via a public information request.