The California Highway Patrol says that it is investigating footage posted on YouTube that shows a policeman repeatedly punching the face and head of a woman.
The pedestrian disobeyed the officer’s order to stop as she crossed a road then resisted arrest, the Highway Patrol said.
An onlooker in a passing car captured Tuesday evening’s confrontation and uploaded the shocking clip, entitled “Police Brutality?”, to YouTube.
The footage shows the officer on foot crossing a busy dual carriageway to accost the woman walking across the central reservation.
He pins her to the ground on the grassy strip and delivers a flurry of blows as she lies flat on her back; video shows him straddling the woman and hitting her over and over again.
Police say that the woman needed to be restrained and was endangering herself and motorists by walking on a busy road in the west of Los Angeles.
The incident was recorded by passing motorist David Tiaz.
“[The policeman] just pounded her,” he told CBS Los Angeles.
“If you look at the video, there are 15 hits. To the head, and not just simple jabs. These are blows to the head. Blows. Really serious blows. And this is ridiculous to me.”
“I find it hard to believe there [was] no other remedy in this situation.”
David Diaz, who shot the video, says he believed it was inappropriate.
He told KABC-TV: “There was no weapons, it’s obviously excess force at this point. He could have easily calmed her down. You can use strength without punching.”
The woman was reportedly taken to a hospital for physical and mental evaluation.