Wednesday, May 2, 2007
Chief Bratton Briefs Media On MacArthur Park DisturbanceLos Angeles: Police Chief William Bratton today provided members of the media with the following comments regarding the confrontation with police that occurred last night in MacArthur Park:
"In my capacity as Chief of the Los Angeles Police Department, I want to assure the public we all serve, the political leadership of the City, the media, and the men and women of the Department, that the Department, in conformity with the Consent Decree, our policies and procedures, and guidance from the Police Commission, will conduct comprehensive, detailed investigations into the unfortunate events that occurred in MacArthur Park yesterday, at the conclusion of what had been a series of peaceful marches, demonstrations, and rallies by tens of thousands of participants.
"My responsibility and obligation as Chief of Police is to investigate what happened, determine why it happened, and address and correct identified problems and issues. In this instance, we will specifically focus on command and control of our officers, our strategic planning efforts and tactics, and most importantly, our significant use of force while attempting to address the illegal and disruptive actions of 50 to 100 agitators who were not a part of the larger group of thousands of peaceful demonstrators.
"As Chief of this Department and as a resident of this City, both of which I have come to love, I share the understandable concern and frustration of all of you that once again the Department, its members and the community are involved in such a troubling event. Echoing Mayor Villaraigosa's comments, any time that our law enforcement officers use force, the public has an absolute and unqualified right to expect and demand an aggressive review of the facts and receive an honest reporting of the conclusions and recommendations.
"Last evening, shortly after the events at MacArthur Park and after discussions with Mayor Villaraigosa and Police Commission President John Mack, I held a series of command staff meetings to initiate several investigations into this matter. The Inspector General, Andre Birotte, participated in the meetings held last night and throughout the day today, and will be involved as they move forward.
"One of the two investigations will focus on creation of an “After Action Report" to be prepared by Chief of Operations, Earl Paysinger. This comprehensive evaluation of the planning and operations relative to yesterday's events will be the foundation for a report to the City Council.
"A second use of force investigation into complaints about our officers' actions will be conducted in full conformity with Consent Decree mandates, and will be headed up by Chief Mark Perez and the Internal Affairs Division of our Professional Standards Bureau.
"Last night, Chief Perez and his investigators were deployed to MacArthur Park to gather information and conduct interviews. They were also sent to local hospitals to determine how many people were injured and to get their statements. Investigators will be interviewing the organizers of the event as well. Today, Professional Standards Bureau investigators are still collecting physical evidence, which includes video coverage from the local media, the LAPD Video Unit and video from surveillance cameras around the park.
"Investigators will be interviewing injured members of the media later this afternoon. They will also work to identify the officers involved in the uses of force.
"The ultimate goal of the internal affairs investigation is to:
•Thoroughly investigate citizens' complaints of misconduct to determine accountability of individual officers' actions.
•Where an officer's actions are determined not to meet LAPD professional standards, to assist in determining the appropriate discipline.
"I have appointed my Chief of Staff, Jim McDonnell, who also oversees our Use of Force Review Boards, to oversee and coordinate both investigations.
"As I have stated, I am committed to an aggressive and exhaustive review of the facts. To assist us in these investigations we need the participation of the media and the public. If you have information or complaints concerning yesterday's incident, we encourage you to contact Internal Affairs at 1-800-339-6868 or the Inspector General at 213-202-5866.
"While there is still a great deal of fact and detail that must be sorted through, we do know the number of people hurt in the confrontation between police and demonstrators, including several members of the media, continues to grow. Seven LAPD officers also suffered minor injuries caused by demonstrators throwing objects, and one motor officer was pushed off his bike.
"Eight adults and one juvenile were arrested for several offenses, including drinking in public, assault with a deadly weapon for throwing a rock at officers, and one arrest was made for interfering with police.
"In conclusion, before opening up to your questions, I regret and am, as are all of you, disturbed by the events so vividly depicted in the various news report videos. Police use of force in any context is always visibly and emotionally upsetting, even when necessary and lawful – our challenge in reviewing and investigating the actions of our Department and its officers, and that of the public, is to determine if that use of force was an appropriate response to the level of threat, disturbance and danger that the officers were encountering. My commitment to you is to meet that challenge."