Man Dies In Early-morning Fight NR11418

September 6, 2011

Los Angeles:  Los Angeles detectives are investigating the death of Rafael N. Hughes, 39, who was found lying in the street in downtown’s Skidrow around 4:40 AM this morning, September 6, 2011.  The apparent cause of death was blunt force trauma to the back of the head.

According to witnesses, Hughes had confronted another man about a debt.  The two men got into a fist fight.  At one point, Hughes was punched, fell back and hit his head on the pavement on Gladys Street, just north of 6th Street.

“Unfortunately, these fights and the resulting injuries are too common here in Skidrow,” said Lt. Paul Vernon, commanding officer of detectives for the Central Police Station.  “This is the third time this year that a man has died as a result of striking his head on the ground during a fight with another person.”

The witnessed flagged down two passing motorcycle officers who called paramedics.  Hughes died at the scene.

Detectives will be viewing video footage from cameras mounted in the area.  “We have very little to go on here other than it’s pretty clear this was motivated over a drug-money debt,” Lt. Vernon added.  “The good news is that we often get very good tips from the community in Skidrow, and we hope that will be the case today.”

Rafael Hughes lived in Norwalk and played basketball daily at Gladys Park, which was across the street from where Hughes died this morning.

This is the eighth homicide in the downtown area this year.  Two of the murders attributed to this year occurred in prior years, but were not ruled homicides until 2011, leaving six homicides occurring this year, three of which are related to mutual-combat fights.

Anyone with information on this crime is urged to call Detective Thayer Lake, Central Homicide Unit, at 213-972-1254.  Anonymous tips can be called into Crimestoppers at 800-222-TIPS (8477), or by texting 274637 (C-R-I-M-E-S on most keypads) with a cell phone.  All text messages should begin with the letters “LAPD.”  Online tips may be placed at, click on “webtips” and follow the prompts.