Video of a California police officer forcefully arresting a woman who was selling flowers without a permit near a high school graduation last month has sparked social media backlash because of the tactics the officer used.
The incident occurred June 7 near the Perris High School graduation ceremony in Southern California, where street vendors were doing what street vendors do—sell products to those stuck in traffic.
According to NBC Los Angeles, officers “contacted, warned and cited” some 15 people for selling without proper city permits before they encountered a vendor who was later identified as 52-year-old Juanita Mendez-Medrano, who was selling bouquets and leis without a permit.
“Unlike the other vendors, Ms. Mendez-Medrano refused to cooperate as necessary to allow our officer to issue her a citation,” Perris police said in a statement.
Police say Mendez-Medrano refused to give officers her real name and instead gave them fake names and tried to walk away and even pushed an officer. An officer then moved to arrest her for “violating the city ordinance and obstructing justice,” authorities said.
But what happened next has many questioning whether the use of force was necessary. In the video, the officer is seen grabbing Mendez-Medrano’s hair before spinning her around and onto the ground. The officer is seen with his knee in the woman’s side as he attempts to cuff her. Perris police said that the officer held her arm to “prevent her from fleeing.”
Christian Lem, 23, was walking near the incident and told NBC that he began taking pictures when he saw the officer knock the flowers out of the woman’s hands.
In the video, Mendez-Medrano can be heard swearing in Spanish while saying she was in pain and accusing the officer of arresting someone who was trying to make an honest living.
Despite the outrage the video has stirred, Perris police said that the video doesn’t show the full context of what happened.
“Unfortunately, the video did not capture the other vendors cooperating with the citation process, nor did it capture our officer’s repeated efforts to convince Ms. Mendez-Medrano to do the same,” the statement read. “As with most police events, the short, publicly produced video does not have the full context or content of the incident seen on the video.”
We all know how dangerous and deadly flower vendors can be, after all.
Mendez-Medrano was booked into Southwest Detention Center and is due back in court Aug. 25.
Read more at NBC Los Angeles.