Cathedral City release bodycam video of former chief Travis Walker's scuffle with handcuffed suspect
The Cathedral City Police Department on Tuesday published bodycam footage that shows former Police Chief Travis Walker in a physical confrontation with a suspect that sent the man to the hospital.
The release of the footage on the department's YouTube channel comes after at least six months of requests by The Desert Sun to the Cathedral City Police Department for the video.
"We put it on there as a courtesy because it was being requested by several media outlets," said acting police Chief Anthony Yoakum.
Yoakum declined to say anything else other than, "The video speaks for itself."
The video’s release comes as questions linger about the events that preceded the “separation” of Walker from the police department.
Walker was placed on administrative leave on May 2 for unspecified personnel issues.
He left the city in November after he was put on paid leave for six months amid a sexual harassment lawsuit.
In July, police dispatcher Loran Candelas sued Walker and the city. In her sexual harassment suit, she alleged Walker made sexual advances and attempted to force her to have sex with him at a hotel during a conference.
On Nov. 19, Cathedral City announced that Walker was no longer employed with the police department, characterizing the departure from the city as a "separation."
In the video made public Tuesday, Walker is seen on Jan. 10, 2019 taking a handcuffed man out of the back of a patrol car when a scuffle occurs. Ultimately, Walker takes the man, who is identified in court records as 18-year-old Axel Ignacio Perez-Ibarra, to the ground and holds him there.
Cathedral City police had been called to a reported domestic dispute at the Creekside Apartments, 68200 33rd Ave. shortly before 8:30 p.m. that day.
According to a criminal complaint filed Jan. 15, 2019, Perez-Ibarra is accused of "willfully and unlawfully attempt(ing) ... by means of threats and violence to deter and prevent" responding police officers from "performing a duty." He is also accused of resisting arrest and committing a "willfully and unlawfully use (of) force and violence upon the person of Miguel C."
Walker was one of four police officers Perez-Ibarra was accused of assaulting. He was also accused of assaulting a civilian.
According to a July 15 plea agreement with the court, Perez-Ibarra admitted guilt to all charges in this incident. A judge ordered him to enter a Youth Treatment and Education Center program. He would then be released into Juvenile Hall custody. He is scheduled to be sentenced on Sept. 3, 2020.
In a July 1 jailhouse interview with The Desert Sun, Perez-Ibarra claimed that after he was handcuffed and put in the back of a police car he was choked by Walker until he lost consciousness.
He said he was transported by ambulance to an area hospital for medical examination and that his injuries were photographed when he was jailed.
He said his medical records were collected as evidence in the criminal case. Court minutes indicate that his medical records were subpoenaed.
The video shows Walker pull a handcuffed Perez-Ibarra from the back of a police car. He forcefully pushes him against the car. Perez-Ibarra then appears to try to kick Walker. Walker, holding Perez-Ibarra in front of him, wraps an arm around him and then takes him down to the ground. Walker appears to hold him in that position.
It's unclear how long Walker holds Perez-Ibarra there. Another officer tells Walker he'll get equipment to further restrain Perez-Ibarra. A short time passes, the officer returns and Perez-Ibarra, who is still handcuffed, begins to curse at the officers.
Walker is seen standing as other officers hold Perez-Ibarra down. Perez-Ibarra continues to curse the officers.
At one point, as many as four police officers appear to hold Perez-Ibarra down during the arrest.
Late Tuesday, a man who answered the door at the apartment where police were called in January declined to comment on the video.
He identified himself only as Perez-Ibarra's stepfather and said Perez-Ibarra is currently in a youth treatment program where he is making progress and in good health.