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LAPD Promises Transparent Investigation into Venice Man's Police Brutality Claim

Capt. Brian Johnson of the Los Angeles Police Department's Pacific Division addresses concerned audience members for 45-minutes at Tuesday night's Venice Neighborhood Council meeting.

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.

Herbert August 22, 2012 at 12:46 PM
LAPD has done a great job in cleaning up the crime in Venice. Its a known fact that gangsters are in Venice and there have been a lot of car breakins and home break ins because people leave doors and windows opened. There have been violent crimes committed like stabbings, assaults on the boardwalk. All the people I know aren't rushing to judgment on this incident with Weekley. How sad that this happened to this poor dog but again show the violence that is in Venice at any given moment. If crime was way up and there were more homicides people would be screaming for police to do something. A dog was stabbed by a man on the Venice boardwalk today. Dog Stabbed on Venice Boardwalk: VIDEO http://blogs.laweekly.com/informer/2012/08/dog_stabbed_venice_video.php
David C. Couper August 22, 2012 at 03:38 PM
Transparency and accountability are important in establishing the trust of the communnity. For insight and direction on this and other important police improvement issues, take a look at “Arrested Development: A Veteran Police Chief Sounds Off About Protest, Racism, Corruption and the Seven Steps Necessary to Improve Our Nation’s Police” (Amazon.com in US and EU). And the blog at http://improvingpolice.wordpress.com/ where other current police improvement issues are discussed. Good luck and may we all experience not just good but great policing! Great policing is accomplished by police who are well-trained, restrained in their use of force, honest, and courteous to every citizen.
David Ewing August 22, 2012 at 11:54 PM
Captain Johnson was more specific when pressed about what behavior would constitute resisting arrest. He said if you're told you're under arrest, and you fail to put your hands behind you back to be cuffed when so ordered, you are resisting arrest. I imagine a lot of discretion is involved in who actually gets charged. What struck me about the Weekly incident was that the police involved were not our Venice cops. They were part of a violent crime task force that was out of its usual territory and presumably out of its normal chain of command. So these were high adrenaline guys who didn't necessarily have an understanding of, or a stake in, the community they were policing, and they didn't have to answer to their usual bosses. There seems to be a pattern of bringing in outside units for extra muscle. This makes Venice cops' jobs harder, in that it brings on the kind of adversarial dynamic they've been trying to move away from.
venicebeachpress.com August 23, 2012 at 01:54 PM
Nice spin guys but I don't think the public is buying it. The video at venicebeachpress.com says it all, this is clearly unchecked police abuse and will eventually cost the tax payers millions that we don't have. Trayvon Martin's lawyer is on the defense team. Thanks for the horrible police work. I have friends on the force and these cops make it tough for the good cops who do good work.
catman August 23, 2012 at 08:37 PM
Only difference between Pacific Division and the Shoreline Division is the Pacific Division has badges. And no I'm not a criminal who just doesn't like cops, just a regular guy who has never been arrested but has been around long enough to know that the cops are not on anybody's side but other cops. Its ridiculous to think that just because the investigaton will be handled by cops from another division that it will be impartial. Its still LAPD investigating LAPD and the conclusion is already a foregone conclusion. They're going to give their fellow gangbangers a pass.
catman August 23, 2012 at 08:38 PM
edit my first sentence to read"Shoreline Crips."
Linda Lucks August 24, 2012 at 01:50 AM
Herbert: Crime in Venice is down almost 13%, an amazing fact in the summer months.
David Ewing August 25, 2012 at 12:53 AM
VeniceBeachPress.com accuses VNC prez Linda Lucks of spinning stats and says, “The Los Angeles Police Department's Pacific Division reports a 37 percent increase in violent crimes in the 27-day reporting period ending June 23, compared to the previous reporting period.” Hello, you’re talking about summer at the beach, when it gets mobbed and crime always goes up. If you didn’t get a jump in the numbers from May to June, you’d know you were looking at the wrong numbers. If VeniceBeachPress were really interested in meaningful statistics, he (or she) would ask how the statistics compared to the same reporting period last year, not spring vs summer. Who is spinning here?
Another WorldView August 25, 2012 at 12:30 PM
Good point David. Also note that the statistics being cited includes the ENTIRE Pacific Division coverage area - not Venice, where crime has gone down over the same period. If anyone was spinning the numbers on this stuff it would be the LAPD, and not Linda - since she is merely quoting their numbers, not her own.
Another WorldView August 25, 2012 at 12:38 PM
Wasn't this just another effect of Mark Ryavec's political demands, for increased policing/enforcement in Venice? "Public safety" may be job one for the Ream Venice goons - but that doesn't take this kind of violent police response into account. I'm sure that Mr. Weeks and his neighbors would feel safer, without this kind of nonsense.
Another WorldView August 26, 2012 at 01:58 PM
I've been around the 'hood my whole life - and in fact the Sho' Line have never been in anyway threatening or inhospitbale towards me. Wish I could say the same for everyone at the LAPD... Perhaps once we regain city-hood, we can 'contract' with them for service.

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