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7 Occupy L.A. cases dismissed because of paperwork errors

The police reports misidentified the arresting officer. The cases represent about a fourth of the 26 the city has filed so far.

January 08, 2012|By Kate Linthicum, Los Angeles Times
  • Los Angeles police arrest one of the nearly 300 people taken into custody on Nov. 30, when 1,400 officers cleared demonstrators from the camp outside City Hall.
Los Angeles police arrest one of the nearly 300 people taken into custody… (Wally Skalij, Los Angeles…)

About one-fourth of the cases filed so far against Occupy Los Angeles protesters have been dismissed because of paperwork errors by police.

In seven of the 26 cases filed as of last week by the Los Angeles city attorney's office, the arresting officer was misidentified in the police report, according to William Carter, chief deputy city attorney. Prosecutors requested the dismissal of six of the cases, and a judge dismissed the seventh on similar grounds, he said.

Without the correct name of the arresting officer, prosecutors are not able to call police to testify, he said.

"We are obligated to do this," Carter said. "Our deputies did their job."

Nearly 300 people were arrested on Nov. 30 when 1,400 Los Angeles Police Department officers moved in to clear demonstrators from the protest camp outside City Hall. The city has offered many of those arrested that night, who had no prior criminal records, a chance to avoid trial by paying $355 for an educational program on free speech offered by a private contractor.

The city has decided to press charges against roughly 50 protesters: people who had prior records or who were arrested on more serious charges, such as resisting arrest.

Two of those protesters were found guilty this week.

On Friday Jason Brodsky was sentenced to 18 months' probation and 20 days of community service for failing to disperse after police declared the scene outside City Hall an unlawful assembly. Brodsky, 35, was ordered by a judge to stay away from the location of his arrest.

Justin Fragosa, 19, was also convicted for failure to disperse. A prosecutor who tried the case said Fragosa, who had a prior arrest for burglary, was taken into custody after the verdict and will be sentenced Tuesday.

Another case, against 25-year-old Anthony Diaz, ended in a hung jury and was dismissed by a judge, Carter said.

He said nine other cases had been resolved after the defendants either pleaded guilty or admitted to a violation of probation or parole. The defendants in those cases were sentenced to between three and 120 days in County Jail. Another case was dismissed because the defendant was determined to be mentally ill, Carter said.

Several other cases are either still in trial or have been continued. Carter said that the city plans to file about 28 more cases and that attorneys in his office will work closely with police to correct reports that misidentified officers.

The city is still reviewing the cases of dozens of protesters who were arrested at related demonstrations during the two-month occupation outside of City Hall, including a large protest outside the Bank of America building downtown.

kate.linthicum@latimes.com

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