Garden Grove police officer charged with assaulting homeless people

Assault charges have been filed against a Garden Grove police officer accused of beating and threatening two homeless people while on duty in separate incidents last year, prosecutors said Wednesday.

Kevin Dinh, 38, has not been arrested and is on administrative leave from the Garden Grove Police Department pending the outcome of the internal investigation, the Orange County District’s Attorney’s Office said.

The 12-year-veteran of the department is scheduled to be arraigned July 21 on four counts of attempted criminal threats, two counts of battery and two counts of assault and battery by an officer, all misdemeanors.

If convicted as charged, Dinh could face up to four years in jail.

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Officials in the DA's office said that last September, Dinh and another officer were sent to a restaurant when some homeless people refused to leave the front of the establishment. 

Dinh allegedly struck a homeless man on the head and twisted the man's hands behind his back before threatening to knock his teeth out if he saw him again.

A month later, prosecutors allege Dinh struck a handcuffed man on the head and pulled his hair while investigating a package theft. The handcuffed man was later released.

Both incidents were recorded by body-worn cameras, police said.

"We will not tolerate this behavior on any members of our community," Garden Grove police Chief Tom DaRe said. "Everyone will be treated with dignity and respect."

Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer said: "The public has the expectation that its law enforcement officers treat everyone with dignity and respect. Abusing the color of authority to exert unlawful force or to attempt to instill fear in detained suspects is not how the overwhelming majority of police officers conduct themselves, and when officers cross the line into criminal behavior, they will be held accountable."

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