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Reporter Sentenced to Pick Up Trash for Slapping Policeman

January 11, 1990|LORI GRANGE | TIMES STAFF WRITER

A newspaper reporter who slapped a Glendale police officer after she was stopped for an illegal turn was ordered last week to spend 30 days picking up trash along freeways.

Glendale Municipal Court Commissioner Joseph F. De Vanon on Friday also placed Hollywood resident Rose Demirjian on two years probation and ordered her to pay a $700 fine and write a letter of apology to the officer.

In a rocky ending to what one court official called the "Zsa Zsa case," De Vanon threatened to jail the protesting Demirjian if she didn't follow his orders.

After a non-jury trial last Thursday, De Vanon found Demirjian, 38, guilty of misdemeanor battery on a police officer, resisting an officer, making an illegal U-turn and driving with a suspended license.

Demirjian, a news and features writer for the Armenian Reporter, acted as her own attorney. During the two-hour trial, she frequently interrupted the judge, calling the police officer and witnesses who testified against her "liars."

"Your continued refusal to face up to your conduct . . . is incredible," said De Vanon, who also barred her from driving without insurance and a valid license.

The judge gave Demirjian until April 5 to perform the community service for the state Department of Transportation and write a letter of apology to Officer Behrouz Hashemi.

Demirjian on Thursday defiantly declared she would appeal. But after the sentencing on Friday, the Lebanese immigrant laughed quietly and held back tears, still maintaining her innocence.

"I'll have to take the trash," she said. "I don't want to go to jail. What I don't like is if I don't write a letter to the jerk, I have to go to jail. He should apologize to me."

Hashemi and four witnesses testified that Demirjian scuffled with the officer Oct. 30 after a routine traffic stop on Brand Boulevard near Harvard Street.

Hashemi told the judge that he asked the woman for her driver's license after he saw her make an illegal U-turn, but that she walked away instead. The officer grabbed her wrist, attempting to stop her, and Demirjian slapped him, he said.

Witnesses testified that the woman yelled obscenities at the officer and struggled as he tried to handcuff her.

Demirjian repeatedly told De Vanon that she had resisted Hashemi but did not slap him or utter obscenities.

Court officials compared Demirjian's case with that of actress Zsa Zsa Gabor, who in October was found guilty of slapping a Beverly Hills motorcycle officer.

Gabor, who has appealed the ruling, was ordered to spend three days in jail, pay about $13,000 in fines, perform 120 hours of community service and visit a psychiatrist.

But Demirjian, who smiled when told of the comparison, disagreed with it. "Zsa Zsa is different. I'm an honorable woman," she said.

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