By JEREMIAH MARQUEZ, Associated Press Writer
LOS ANGELES- The Police Department is investigating two officers who were videotaped hitting a man during an arrest in Hollywood three months ago, authorities said Thursday.
The footage, posted on Youtube.com, shows two officers holding down William Cardenas, 24, on a sidewalk as one punches him several times in the face. The struggling suspect yells repeatedly "I can't breathe!"
The department has opened an investigation into officers' use of force during the Aug. 11 arrest, said police spokesman Lt. Paul Vernon. The officers were identified as Alexander Schlegel and Patrick Farrell of the department's Hollywood division.
Vernon claimed Cardenas is a known gang member who had been wanted on a felony warrant for receiving stolen property.
Andre Birotte, the department's independent watchdog, said his office was informed of the arrest in October and was monitoring the investigation.
Cardenas faces two charges of resisting arrest. According to a person familiar with the investigation, the arrest report claims that Cardenas fought with the officers before they held him down and placed handcuffs on him. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the investigation is ongoing.
Authorities learned of the tape in late August after a defense attorney turned it over to prosecutors. The district attorney's office is reviewing whether to continue with the Cardenas case, which is scheduled for trial Nov. 20, said spokeswoman Jane Robison.
It was unclear who shot the footage, which is not an official police video or from a surveillance camera.
A call to Cardenas' attorney was not immediately returned.