Tuesday, May 1, 2012
Cooley Raps Villaraigosa, Beck for Accusing Innocent Man
D.A. Faults Them in Connection With Arrest of Suspect in Dodger Stadium Beating
By a MetNews Staff Writer
Los Angeles County District Attorney Steve Cooley has lashed out at Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and Police Chief Charlie Beck for grandstanding in the aftermath of the March 31, 2011 near-fatal beating of a San Francisco Giants fan in the parking lot at Dodger Stadium.
The remarks came at Saturday’s Criminal Courts Bar Association 5th Annual Awards Dinner, at which Cooley was honored in connection with his 65th birthday, which is today, and the forthcoming completion of his 12-year tenure as district attorney in December.
The district attorney’s delayed criticism of the city officials’ May 23, 2011 press conference to announce the arrest of a suspect, Giovanni Ramirez, was sparked by an allegation a few minutes earlier that Ramirez had been charged despite a lack of evidence.
Cooley said he wanted to set the record straight, and advised San Fernando Valley attorney James A. Goldstein—who made the remark in accepting the group’s Jerry Geisler Memorial Award—that “[t]he state did not accuse this person.”
He said that Villaraigosa “wanted a press conference” and Beck “did not follow the normal rules of how it works,” resulting in the two having “falsely accused an innocent man” in comments to reporters.
At that press conference, held at Dodger Stadium, Beck said of the arrest: “This is a huge step.”
Villaraigosa said that he “never had any doubt that the men and women of the LAPD would work tirelessly to find this individual” and would find other assailants.
In the weeks that ensued, evidence was not amassed showing any complicity of Ramirez in the vicious attack on Bryan Stow following the opening game of the 2011 season.
Cooley declared Saturday:
“The DA’s Office got involved, and we got the right guys who did it.”
Louie Sanchez and Marvin Norwood were charged by that office on July 22, 2011. At the time, Cooley voiced no criticism of the mayor or police chief for the error in proclaiming Ramirez to have been one of the attackers.
In a press release that day, he praised the LAPD, saying: “The Los Angeles Police Department never gave up on this case,”
A preliminary hearing for Sanchez and Norwood is scheduled for this month.
Other honorees on Saturday were Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Leslie A. Dunn, Judicial Excellence Award; Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Douglas Sortino, President’s Award; Los Angeles Deputy District Attorney Brent Ferreira and Deputy State Public Defender Ellen Eggers, Johnnie Cochran Award; and, posthumously, criminal defense attorney Gigi Gordon, Joseph M. Rosen Award.
Among those in attendance at the dinner were two of Cooley’s predecessors as district attorney, Robert H. Philibosian and John K. Van de Kamp (later state attorney general) and two candidates to succeed him, Chief Deputy District Attorney Jackie Lacey and Deputy District Attorney Alan Jackson.
Also present were all five deputy district attorneys seeking open seats in the June 5 primary—Sean Coen and Craig Gold (Office No. 3), Shannon Knight and Andrea Thompson (Office No. 65), and Eric Harmon (Office No. 114)—as well as Deputy City Attorney Matt Schonbrun (Office No. 65).
Copyright 2012, Metropolitan News Company