LOS ANGELES (KTLA) — A homeless man allegedly bit off a portion of an officer’s finger during an arrest at a subway station in East Hollywood on Thursday.
Los Angeles police officers assigned to the Metro Red Line were conducting routine activities at the Vermont/Santa Monica station when they spotted a man reportedly board the train with a meth pipe around 10:15 a.m.
Police approached the suspect and escorted him off the train for a narcotics investigation. As the man was being held, he became violent and began fighting with officers which resulted in a use-of-force incident, according to police.
During the altercation, the suspect bit off a portion of a sergeant’s pinky finger, police said. Witnesses said the man also tried to bite other nearby officers before he was subdued.
The sergeant was transported to a local hospital for treatment. Doctors were not able to reattach the officer’s fingertip. The suspect was also transported to the hospital with minor injuries.
He was later arrested on charges of mayhem and resisting an executive order. His identity has not been released, although police confirmed he is a transient.
“It can be a little scary here sometimes,” said Dexter Norwood, a witness. “You just got to make sure you pay attention to your surroundings.”
Armed guards who patrol the MTA station said they’re not shocked by the incident. They claim the trains and the station are filled with drug abusers.
“I had to take down a guy two weeks ago just like that, smoking on the platform,” said Kenyson Dove, a Metro security guard. “We told him he couldn’t smoke down here and he kept on smoking so we had an altercation with the guy.”
The guards said they regularly see drugs, weapons, people defecating and some even having sex on the train platforms.
Dove believes more security guards and LAPD officers patrolling the stations would be a good first step to addressing the crime.
“I’m deeply disturbed by this vicious attack,” said LAPD Chief Michael Moore. “Fortunately we have the very best medical professionals doing their best to surgically repair this terrible injury while our people continue their work into the night to protect our transit system.”
“We take this matter extremely seriously and have zero tolerance for violent acts on the Metro System,” said LAPD in a statement. “We continue to work aggressively to address safety on the transit system and have directed our law enforcement partners to increase their visible presence and to actively enforce penal code violations, including enforcement of our drug-free policy.”