Under fire for a videotape showing an officer punching a suspect in the face, Los Angeles Police Chief William Bratton is directing officers not to use the term “distraction strike” to describe when officers hit people to get them to submit to arrest, the Los Angeles Times reports. The chief is not changing the policy that allows officers to use force; he is only doing away with the “ambiguous” term He said it had been misused by officers to explain why they struck a suspect. The term was developed to describe a punch or open-hand strike intended to divert a suspect’s attention to where the blow lands so the officer can move to another technique to complete an arrest.
“The term ‘distraction strike’ has been misapplied to describe strikes intended to cause the suspect to submit to arrest or stop an offensive action when there was no intent to transition to another technique,” Bratton said. Officials said the elimination of the term was proposed before a videotape surfaced that showed an officer in an arrest punching a suspect five times in the face.