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Man in Long Beach beating video had mental issues, girlfriend says

A Long Beach man who is seen on a YouTube video being violently subdued by police has recently shown signs of mental illness, his girlfriend said.

Lee Ann Hernandez told the Los Angeles Times that her boyfriend, Porfirio Santos-Lopez, has recently acted paranoid and out-of-sorts but did not deserve the Monday beating.

Santos-Lopez, 46, was taken into custody after allegedly getting into a fight with two men then engaging in a minutes-long struggle with officers trying to subdue him near Locust Avenue and South Street.

In the nearly five-minute video (note: vulgar language) Santos-Lopez can be seen lying on his back in the middle of the street surrounded by Long Beach police officers.

Officers then use a Taser on Santos-Lopez and strike him repeatedly in the legs and other parts of his body with batons. At times, Santos-Lopez shouts back, but what he is saying is unclear.

“The baton and the Taser are tools for us to use and get a combative subject into custody,” said Long Beach police Sgt. Aaron Eaton. “In this case, the suspect was adamant that he was not going to roll over onto his stomach.”

“When you look at the initial video, it just doesn’t look good,” Eaton said. “We want to refrain from using that judgment on a first impression.”

Hernandez said Santos-Lopez had been acting different lately.

“He’s not the one to go out and fight,” Hernandez said. “His mind was probably agitated and he wasn’t himself.”

She said he started hearing voices and "seeing" people in their home who weren't there.

“He thinks my late husband is here,” she said. “He thinks he’s angry and he’s trying to hurt him.”

Hernandez said Santos-Lopez has a drinking problem and that she had asked police several times to get him psychiatric treatment. Police officials could not immediately verify her claims.

Santos-Lopez will be booked after his release from the hospital, where he was being treated for a broken arm and other injuries, Hernandez said.

The officers involved in the incident remained on duty Wednesday and a standard use-of-force investigation has begun, Eaton said.

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joseph.serna@latimes.com

@josephserna

ruben.vives@latimes.com

@LATvives

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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