MacArthur clash could be costly

first_imgThe judgments, he said, will be a “waste of taxpayers’ money,” with the city already struggling to balance its budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1. Two class-action suits already have been filed against the LAPD in U.S. District Court, alleging violation of demonstrators’ civil rights. Villaraigosa also repeated his promise that he and Los Angeles Police Chief William Bratton will investigate every aspect of the altercation “We’re going to get to the bottom of the situation because we have to,” the mayor said. At the same time, the mayor vowed that he won’t allow a witch hunt against the officers assigned to MacArthur Park on May 1. The clash between LAPD officers and demonstrators at a May 1 immigration rally will likely result in multimillion-dollar legal judgments that will be a “waste” of taxpayer dollars, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said Sunday. The mayor’s comments came during an appearance on KNBC (Channel 4) and nearly two weeks after a televised altercation showed police wielding batons and firing rubber bullets at protesters and journalists in MacArthur Park. As the LAPD and Police Commission investigate the melee, the city has asked participants and witnesses to come forward with information and any video or photos. Villaraigosa said evidence provided by bystanders will be a key element in the city’s investigations, as well as civil suits he expects will result. He refused to be pinned down on how much he believes the litigation will cost the city, but estimated it will soar into the millions. “We’re going to protect the rights of officers, who put their lives on the line every day,” he said. “When an officer goes beyond law, beyond tactical training, beyond common sense, they have to be responsible like the rest of us.” He also said the investigators will look at the role of every command official and officer involved in the day’s events. “Historically, it’s always been a line officer who’s taken the brunt” of the blame, Villaraigosa said. “This is going to change.” At least four investigations – including a civil-rights inquiry by the FBI – have been launched into the clash. The Police Commission is due to report its findings to the City Council at the end of the month. The council also created a special task force to monitor the city’s investigations. It is holding a public hearing at 6 p.m. Monday at Charles White Elementary School, 2401 Wilshire Blvd., across from MacArthur Park. A week after the clash, Bratton demoted Deputy Chief Caylor “Lee” Carter, a 33-year veteran who was the top-ranking commander at MacArthur Park. Carter’s second-in-command, Cmdr. Louis Gray, was reassigned from LAPD’s Central Division to the Operations Bureau. At the time, Bratton said the reassignments were a “personnel” rather than “disciplinary” decision. The 60 officers of Metro Division’s B Platoon, who were assigned to crowd control at MacArthur Park, also have been taken off the street. The officers of the city’s elite division were reportedly back at the Police Academy last week, receiving training in crowd control – tactics that sources said the officers had not previously received because they’d been concentrating on crime-suppression duties.160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img