YUBA CITY, Calif. (KCRA) — Police are investigating after a Yuba City officer was recorded on camera punching a suspect Monday afternoon, and some witnesses said they saw the suspect hit the officer first.
Ronald Ybarra, 59, was taken into custody on charges of resisting arrest and violating parole, Yuba City Police Lt. Jim Runyen said Tuesday. He is being held without bail.
Police responded about 1:30 p.m. Monday to a Taco Bell on Bridge Street after someone called 911 to report a disturbance. One of the people involved in the disturbance was Ybarra, Runyen said.
Witnesses said a fight broke out between Ybarra and another man before officers arrived.
In the video, a Yuba City police officer and Ybarra are seen outside of the restaurant next to a police car. The officer then punches Ybarra, who is not handcuffed, twice before getting behind him and grabbing his arms. The officer then forces Ybarra to the ground.
The video, captured by a KCRA 3 viewer, is only 10 seconds long. A person is heard in the video saying, “He’s got his gun, dude.”
But Ybarra’s wife, Kathi Ybarra, said her husband was not armed and doesn’t own a gun.
“It made me sick to my stomach. It just upset me,” Kathi Ybarra said. “It clearly looked like he was the one assaulted — not the other way around.”
Kathi Ybarra added that her husband was in the area confronting a man he believed stole money from him.
“He confronted him and called the police department to come because the guy had cashed his check for $5,000,” Kathi Ybarra said.
Witnesses near the scene said a fight broke out between the men before police arrived. Some claimed Ybarra was being aggressive with the officer and even hit the officer.
“If he would have attacked a police officer like they’re claiming, you know, I think they would have shot him,” Kathi Ybarra said. “And I think they would have charged him with assaulting a police officer, not just resisting arrest.”
Runyen said the police department is aware of the video and is reviewing witness statements.
“Our officers wear body cameras and those are being reviewed for evidence,” he added. “Use of force is something we take very seriously and review to make sure it’s within department policy.”
Ybarra was booked into Sutter County Jail and is scheduled to be arraigned at 3 p.m. Wednesday.
Ybarra’s wife said his family is ready to take the police department to court over the encounter caught on camera.
“I would imagine he’s going to try to file a law suit against the county. It’s time the city, someone needs to hold them accountable,” Kathi Ybarra said. “This was just too much. He didn’t lose his life, but he very well could have.”
No other details about the arrest or the incident were released.