Twelve officers and a helicopter from the Los Angeles Police Department Rampart Division responded to complaints from employees and customers at the 1000 Vermont Avenue shopping center about a public disturbance on March 12 at 1:15 p.m.
Suspect Starts Water Fight with Officer
By Trissean McDonald
More than six black and white Los Angeles Police Department SUVs parked on the street and on the lot of the East Hollywood strip mall on 1000 N. Vermont Avenue as helicopters circled overhead. The police activity was in response to calls about a public disturbance.
Subway sandwich shop employees in the shopping center initially contacted the police because of a man’s boisterous behavior. The man was yelling and going from door to door in the strip mall that houses, Subway, Boost Mobile, the Coolest Boba Shop and other businesses inside the car-packed shopping center. Witnesses said they observed him harassing workers, setting off a car alarm, and yelling obscenities according to valet attendant Jose Espinosa.
“The guy opened the Subway door, the Coolest [boba shop], the dental and he jumped over the car–the grey one,” Espinosa said, referring to the Mazda minivan that belonged to Jackie Martinez, who is the manager of the MoneyGram store.
Martinez witnessed the suspect trying to get inside her car however, he was unable to get inside. To avoid contact with the alleged suspect, Martinez waited until police arrived before checking on her vehicle. Martinez saw no damage to her car after examining it.
“He was trying to get inside but the door is locked,” Martinez said. “I was watching him. I was working. I came out and the police were here.”
Boost Mobile employees at the center witnessed the suspect screaming and yelling since 9:30 a.m. Twelve police officers responded and placed the man inside of an SUV, but not before witnesses said he threw water on one of the policemen. The entire incident occurred inside of the Subway restaurant.
Although his actions were a nuisance, officers identified no crime prior to their arrival. The alleged suspect began to walk away from police officers when they asked him for I.D. He then, walked into the Subway sandwich shop and began drinking the complementary water.
“[He was] just a guy everyone said was causing a disturbance inside the shopping mall,” Officer Gonzales said. “I don’t know what kind of disturbance because nobody when we got here had anything to say about it, just ‘He’s the guy that’s bothering everybody.’”
Los Angeles City College student, Alex Lopez, whose major is undecided witnessed the dispute between the man and the officer. He said that the alleged suspect was combative after being told by police to leave the Subway sandwich shop. He saw the man throw water at one of the officers. The officer then retaliated with a blow to the man’s face.
“He came into the Subway to drink water and he was losing his temper. He just kinda like, threw one of the waters at him. Barely threw it, barely missed him and the cop came up and punched him, ” Lopez said.
While the alleged suspect was inside of the Subway sandwich shop, police asked him to leave. He put up a fight and things escalated once he threw water on one of the officers. Officers then called for backup to help detain the man.
”We told him he had to leave and he put up a fight. He’s going to go to jail for battery to a police officer,” Officer Gonzales said.
Police are facing intense scrutiny across the nation for the way they deal with citizens in certain situations. Many say police are using excessive force to handle non-life threatening situations, according to a Regulatory Review article posted online. The LAPD Media Relations Department gave confirmation to Collegian via email that one of their officers used force to detain the suspect
“We can confirm the incident. The [alleged] suspect was resisting arrest and there was a use of force. There is an ongoing investigation,” said Officer Herrera of the Media Relations Department.
The officer involved in the incident did not have any reported injuries during the kerfuffle.