A Garden Grove police officer has been charged with threatening and striking homeless people while on duty in two separate incidents last year.
Kevin Dinh, a 12-year-veteran of the department, was charged Wednesday by the Orange County district attorney’s office with four misdemeanor counts of attempted criminal threats, two misdemeanor counts of battery and two misdemeanor counts of assault or battery by a public officer.
Dinh, 37, has not been arrested and is on administrative leave. He faces a maximum sentence of four years in jail if convicted on all counts, prosecutors said.
It was not immediately clear who was representing him.
In a statement, the district attorney’s office said that on Sept. 20, Dinh and another officer were sent to a restaurant regarding a complaint that homeless people refused to leave the front of the business.
Prosecutors allege that Dinh struck a homeless man on the head. They say that he also twisted the man’s hands while holding them behind his back and that he threatened to knock out his teeth if he saw him again.
In another incident on Oct. 18, prosecutors allege that Dinh struck a handcuffed homeless suspect on the head after being sent with two other officers to a bus stop to investigate a package theft from a nearby home. They claim that Dinh also pulled the man’s hair while saying something to him.
Prosecutors said the homeless man was released and his handcuffs were removed.
In a statement, the Garden Grove Police Department said Dinh was immediately placed on administrative leave after another officer reported an inappropriate use of force to a supervisor related to the second alleged assault.
Spokesperson Lt. Richard Burillo said officials launched a criminal investigation where they then learned of the alleged first assault.
Both incidents were captured on body-camera footage, which has not been released by the department.
“We will not tolerate this behavior on any members of our community,” said Garden Grove Police Chief Tom DaRe in a statement. “Everyone will be treated with dignity and respect.”
Dinh is scheduled to be arraigned July 21.