A Woodlake police officer was caught on camera shoving a protester dressed as a popular children's television character to the ground and then striking him.
J.R. Castillo was dressed as the loveable purple dinosaur, Barney, protesting on Valencia Avenue in Woodlake -- about 17 miles northwest of Visalia. He was holding an inflammatory sign directed at Woodlake's new chief of police Michael Marquez.
Castillo said he hoped the sign would bring attention to what he calls "questionable behavior" by Woodlake Police Department.
Witnesses recording Castillo's protest on the busy street corner captured an officer approach and then shove Castillo to the ground and then punch him twice. Witnesses say the officer only stopped after he realized other motorists began pulling over to record the incident.
Castillo said he complied with the officer after he was asked to leave. But the officer moved closer to Castillo and pushed him to the ground, Castillo said.
KMPH showed the raw footage to Chief Marquez, who said, "It's very unclear as to what actually transpired on how the individual falling to the ground or how he ended up on the ground."
Marquez admitted that the behavior was "questionable," but said that he could not see the officer shove Castillo in the footage.
"Based off this information, now a formal investigation will take place and we will begin the process of the investigation," Marquez said, adding that the process will start as soon as Castillo files a formal report at the police station.
Castillo is considering seeking an attorney.