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City Official Arrested

Authorities say the Gardena councilman struck a Hawthorne police officer with a car.

October 14, 2002|Daniel Hernandez | Times Staff Writer

A Gardena city councilman is facing possible assault charges for allegedly hitting a Hawthorne police officer with his car at the scene of a traffic accident in a busy South Bay intersection.

Gardena City Councilman Steven C. Bradford was released Saturday after posting $50,000 bail for his arrest that morning.

Bradford had no comment when reached by phone Sunday. But his attorney, Winston K. McKesson, said the councilman was only trying to help out at the crash scene and blamed officers for any miscommunication.

According to police, the councilman disobeyed traffic officers' orders to stop as he drove away from a gas station near the scene of a two-car collision at El Segundo and Crenshaw boulevards, an intersection that divides Hawthorne and Gardena.

When Bradford's car inched forward in a stop-and-go movement, Officer Vince Arias signaled for him to stop, police said. Instead, Bradford yelled through his closed windows as he moved forward, eventually hitting Arias in his left leg and knocking him down, Hawthorne police Lt. John Beerling said.

Beerling said Bradford then "got out of the car and became verbally uncooperative and semi-combative."

Arias tried to place Bradford in handcuffs, but he resisted, police said. When another officer approached Bradford and threatened to use pepper spray on him, he complied, police said.

Arias did not require medical attention.

Bradford was taken to the Hawthorne police station, where he was booked on suspicion of felony assault with a deadly weapon on an officer and resisting arrest.

"All he was trying to do was tender service," McKesson said.

The accident involved a car that had rear-ended another, sparking a fire on one of the vehicles. Police said no serious injuries were reported.

Bradford, a spokesman for Southern California Edison, has served on the Gardena City Council for five years. He was first elected to the council in 1997, making him the city's first black elected council member.

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