By Mary Frances Gurton
ALTADENA - Two deputies were briefly hospitalized along with the motorist they ultimately apprehended Tuesday evening after a routine traffic stop led to an altercation and the discovery of rock cocaine in the motorist's vehicle, a sheriff's captain said.
Clarence Harris, 40, of Los Angeles, was initially pulled over by sheriff's deputies at 4:15 p.m. at New York Street and Lake Avenue, according to sheriff's Capt. Joe Gutierrez.
The man resisted deputies, engaging them in a brawl that ended across the street, said George Lewis, an Altadena town council member who witnessed the incident.
Three deputies held Harris down while a fourth female deputy struck the 250-pound man with a baton, finally forcing him into handcuffs and into the back of the patrol car, Lewis said.
"Taking down a suspect is one thing, but beating on him with a baton on his leg is excessive force," said Lewis, who owns the nearby Ronnie's Automotive. "I ran over to them and pulled the man's leg back."
A male passenger was released at the scene, Lewis said.
After subduing Harris, deputies searched his vehicle and discovered a "great deal of rock cocaine," Gutierrez said.
Harris was jailed on suspicion of assault on a peace officer, resisting arrest and possession for sale of rock cocaine, Gutierrez said. Harris was transported to a nearby hospital with minor injuries to his face, he said.
Two deputies drove themselves to a nearby hospital, where they were treated for injuries including a fractured thumb and bruised knee, Gutierrez said.
A routine investigation will be conducted to determine whether excessive force was used, he added.
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Suspect, two Calif. deputies injured in brawl following traffic stop