SAN DIEGO — An internal investigation into a controversial arrest by San Diego police detectives last week, which was partially caught on video, has been ordered by San Diego Police Chief David Nisleit.
Plainclothes detectives arrested a woman and took her away in an unmarked van after a protest march downtown on Thursday night. The video shows one officer yelling at the woman's companions, "If you follow us, you will get shot. Do you understand me?"
Nisleit said on Saturday, "Yesterday afternoon, I directed the Internal Affairs unit to open an investigation into the arrest at 1400 Park Blvd. ... The investigation is already under way."
City Council President Georgette Gomez has called for an investigation of the incident.
"I am calling for an immediate and thorough investigation into this incident, and for the officer who threatened to kill unarmed protesters to be placed on leave," Gomez said Saturday. "It is incredibly disturbing to hear police officers threaten people's lives."
The woman detained in the video is Shayla Piccini, 20, a San Diego State University student, according to reports.
Piccini and her cousins were walking back to their car when she saw some police motorcycles driving past and held up her cardboard sign, according to her mother.
San Diego Police Lt. Shawn Takeuchi said Friday that undercover officers watched Piccini swing a cardboard sign at a passing motorcycle officer. He said they arrested her and loaded her into the van for safety reasons because of the surrounding crowd.
Piccini was booked into jail on suspicion of assault on a peace officer, Takeuchi said.
"The detective felt that was dangerous because the officer had the potential of being knocked off the motorcycle or crashing it," Takeuchi said.
San Diego Police officials told reporters that the statement about shooting was made by a SWAT officer who had a pepper ball device.
Police said the officers involved in the arrest have been reassigned to other duties.