By Rachel Uranga, Staff Writer
The LAPD is expected to submit a report to prosecutors next week that names 29 officers who could be charged with unnecessary use of force in last year's May Day rally at MacArthur Park, officials said Tuesday.
Images of riot-gear-clad police shooting into a crowd of women and children broadcast worldwide forced Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa to cut short a trade-mission trip and for LAPD Chief William Bratton to publicly apologize for what has come to be called the May Day melee.
The Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office declined to comment on the report, saying it will wait to review the case.
"This is part of the process; we will let the process take its course," said Capt. Jeri Weinstein, head of an LAPD team that investigated the more than 200 complaints that poured in from media and protesters that attended the pro-immigration rally.
A separate internal disciplinary hearing is also being conducted. Days after the incident, Bratton demoted two commanders in charge that day, with one later retiring. Bratton later implemented departmentwide training on crowd control.
But LAPD critics say that even though they have not yet seen the department's report, it appears not to go far enough.
LAPD officials will submit the report naming 29 officers responsible for 72 different allegations to the District Attorney's Office and the FBI for review next week. In addition, the report lists 139 additional allegations that cannot be tied to specific officers.
Weinstein declined to detail any of the 139 allegations but said nearly all have to do with unnecessary use of force.
Based on the report, prosecutors will decide whether any of the officers can be charged, while the FBI will determine whether there were any civil-rights violations.
Bratton said Tuesday that he was confident no violations of civil rights would be found.
But opponents of the department were already questioning the report.
"As far as I can tell, almost every Metro officer was involved somehow," said Carol Sobel, a lawyer representing dozens of clients in a lawsuit against the department.
"It seems really narrow to only identify 29 officers. I think what they have done is limit it to those caught on tape striking someone," she said, adding, "it violates somebody's rights to stand by while another officer hit somebody."
Citing an ongoing investigation, Weinstein declined to comment further on whether the LAPD is recommending that the D.A. charge officers who watched and did nothing as protesters and media were roughed up.
"We trust that each of the officers involved will be given a fair review that will evaluate their actions in the context of what they had been ordered to do, the tools and training they were given to accomplish those tasks, and the conditions under which they were operating," said Tim Sands, president of the LAPD's police union. "As Chief Bratton once said, `Policing isn't pretty.' Skirmish lines are not pretty, and, as we all know, the events of that day were exacerbated by command and control problems that have already been brought to light."
The LAPD's own searing report on the incident released last year found that the elite Metropolitan Division officers had no idea who was in charge and hadn't been trained in crowd control for 18 months.
Despite a similar protest one year earlier, the department was caught off guard and when things spun out of control not a single supervisor or member of the command staff involved attempted to intervene, according to the report.