Police in a 45-minute presentation Tuesday night at the Venice Neighborhood Council meeting promised a thorough and transparent investigation of a Venice man's allegations of police brutality.
About 85 people attended the meeting in the auditorium of Westminster Avenue Elementary School and 10 addressed their concerns to Los Angeles Police Department Capt. Brian Johnson of the Pacific Division during a testy question-and-answer period.
Johnson opened the discussion by providing the council's board and audience with an update on the case of Ronald Weekly, 20, a Venice man whose violent arrest Saturday afternoon was recorded on video.
The situation was likened by Johnson to three trains running on separate tracks with the first concerning Weekly's arrest for investigation of resisting a peace officer with force; the second, an internal review of the use of force and, the third, an internal affairs investigation of the personnel complaint of biased policing and excessive force.
Johnson said the internal review of the use of force would take about 60 to 90 days to complete and will be reviewed by the LAPD's Office of the Inspector General, which is part of the civilian Board of Police Commissioners that also oversees the department. The internal affairs investigation into the personnel complaint would take a minimum of six months to complete, Johnson said. The City Attorney's Office or the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office will decide whether to pursue the resisting arrest case against Weekly, he said.
Johnson said he has met with several neighborhood organizations and community members in Oakwood and Venice to discuss the case.
The question-and-answer period opened with a 49-year-old woman who has lived in Venice for 15 years telling Johnson about her heated encounter with police who refused to allow her into her garage last year when the Red Hot Chili Peppers were playing a rooftop gig. The resident told Johnson that the encounter was on YouTube (see attached) as "Venice Woman Going off Big Time on LAPD @ the Red Hot Chili Peppers Rooftop Concert."
"It's not the same LAPD and you're trying to tell us that it is," she said.
Johnson responded that her complaint would be thoroughly investigated.
The officers involved in the Weekly incident were part of an Operations West Bureau task force that provides more officers in the Oakwood and Venice area during the summer months, Johnson said.
Another resident who said she has lived in Venice for 40 years told Johnson that she saw four to five officers take down one young man about two months ago, but said nothing about it out of fear. The woman said she knows Weekly and asked why it takes so many officers to bring down a young person.
Johnson responded that apprehending suspects is more difficult than it looks on television and invited community members to a training scenario involving putting a 100-pound female officer into custody.
Another speaker told Johnson of a harsh encounter with police during a Venice walk-street party on the Fourth of July, while another said the Weekly incident was "disgusting."
Johnson said the police department's criteria for responding to someone allegedly resisting arrest relies on the legal "objectively reasonable force" standard, a balancing test on use-of-force options based on a suspect's actions.