Video shows MTS security beating trolley passenger: Man says he was beaten for rolling cigarette

LA MESA, Calif. - The La Mesa Police Department is investigating an altercation involving trolley security officers and a trolley rider that was caught by a surveillance camera.

10News tracked down the man who was beaten by security officers onboard the trolley.

"I was never even cited, I was just beat up," Felipe Vedoy told 10News.

He faces no criminal charges and has nothing but deep bruises to show he says for the beating he took. 10News had to file a public records request for the video from onboard the trolley on Monday.

Vedoy says the confrontation started with an incident before he boarded the trolley after he rolled a cigarette outside.

"Told me that I had to leave and that, um, I wasn't going to be catchin' (sic) the next trolley because there was no smoking there," he said.  

Vedoy added, "I wasn't even smoking. I was rolling it up and I put it in my ear."

On Aug. 18, La Mesa officers were called in to assist in a situation at the trolley station on 70th Street. According to police, trolley security officers -- Transit Systems Security employees -- were involved in a physical altercation with a man on the trolley. Officers were later advised that "the incident was under control and trolley security would handle it," police said.

On Aug. 21, police said they were contacted by Metropolitan Transit System officials and were "asked to review the previous incident because of a concern of use of force by TSS employees." MTS provided police with surveillance footage of the altercation.

Lynn Riggs, who was on the trolley at the time of the incident, told Team 10 that she witnessed five minutes of the beating and said the altercation "haunts me."

"He's not trying to get away. He's just trying not to get injured," Riggs added.

In video obtained by Team 10 through a public records request, two security officers walk onto the trolley and towards the man. The fight begins immediately but it is not clear why.

"They would beat him, beat him and beat him. They then would stop to take a breath and continue beating on him," Riggs said.

The video then shows what seems like a break in the action, but then the officers start again. One of the officers pounds the man three more times on his back, and then the officers start striking him with batons.

Police said they will be "evaluating the case and working with the District Attorney's Office to evaluate for criminal charges."

MTS officials told Team 10 they are conducting an internal investigation.

Team 10 learned that the security officers may have violated the MTS' security use of force protocols.

Both officers were suspended during the investigation.

"I don't see any reason why anybody who has that reaction, out-of-control behavior … has any reason to stay on in any capacity," said Riggs.

The MTS hired a use-of-force expert to review the incident.

Vedoy told 10News reporter Rielle Creighton he had been shot in the neck recently but did not elaborate. He says at one moment he was afraid for his life.

"I hadn't done nothing wrong," Vedoy said.

When asked if he did not resist, he answered, "I mean, you can call what you want, you know, because there was a scuffle but it was based on I was harassed. I didn't want to get shot."

When asked if he thought they were going to shoot him, he said, "Pretty much."

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