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Venice skateboarder allegedly beaten by police gives new details

Ronald Weekley Jr., 20, says he thought he was 'going to die' in the incident, caught on video, which is being investigated by LAPD's internal affairs unit.

August 22, 2012|By Matt Stevens, Los Angeles Times
  • Ronald Weekley Jr., a college student from Venice, is comforted by his mother, Diana Holquin, when he breaks down during a news conference to talk about his encounter with Los Angeles police officers.
Ronald Weekley Jr., a college student from Venice, is comforted by his mother,… (Luis Sinco / Los Angeles…)

A 20-year-old Venice skateboarder who was allegedly beaten by Los Angeles police officers laid out new details Tuesday, saying he thought he was "going to die" as he was punched in the head four times.

A video captured on cellphone shows four Los Angeles police officers on top of Ronald Weekley Jr. in the Saturday incident. As three officers wrestle with him on the ground, a fourth appears to punch Weekley in the face repeatedly.

Officials said the Los Angeles Police Department's internal affairs unit is investigating the allegations.

At a news conference at a church in Venice on Tuesday, attorney Benjamin Crump said his client suffered a concussion, broken cheekbone and broken nose from the beating. Crump's office said it would provide medical records but had not yet released them.

"Why did they assault and confront this college student?" Crump asked. "Was it because he was on the wrong side of the road, or was it because he was the wrong color?"

In a crisp white button-down shirt, Weekley, who is African American and a chemistry major at Xavier University in Louisiana, appeared alongside his family and two witnesses to the beating. Crump said Weekley had been on a liquid diet since the attack and remained in pain. Weekley did not appear to have any visible injuries but broke down in tears while speaking.

"I was opening the door to my apartment when I was attacked from behind. They grabbed my hair and my back and tried to smash my face into the ground," he said. "I started screaming and yelling because I thought I was going to die."

Weekley buried his face in his hands and his head on his mother's shoulder during the news conference. He later said he had blacked out during the beating.

"The next thing I remember was being in the back of the car, asking 'Why me? Why did I get stopped?'"

An officer called Weekley a "dumb a—" and told him he hadn't stopped at a stop sign, Crump said.

Cmdr. Andrew Smith said officers tried to stop Weekley on Saturday evening near the corner of Sunset and Sixth avenues because he was riding his skateboard on the wrong side of the street. He attempted to flee, Smith said, and officers used force to handcuff and subdue him.

Weekley was arrested on suspicion of resisting arrest and on three outstanding warrants, which Crump said related to curfew and bicycle-riding violations and driving without a license.

Crump, who is also the attorney for the family of Trayvon Martin, the Florida teen whose fatal shooting earlier this year became a national news story, said he wants the charges dropped and the officers involved held accountable.

matt.stevens@latimes.com

Times staff writer Richard Winton contributed to this report.

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