$1.1 million needed to vet May Day melee claims

first_imgPolice Chief William Bratton, who demoted two top officers after the incident, said the department will release its report on the incident Oct. 2. And he said he expects to discipline more officers. “It would be my expectation that some of them will be (disciplined) but there are processes in the department that will be followed,” Bratton said. Since the clash, the LAPD has trained hundreds of officers on crowd control techniques, including members of the Metro unit who shot the rubber bullets into a crowd of women and children at the park. At the same time, he said there were no major injuries suffered. “Let’s keep things in perspective: To this point in time, we are not aware of any catastrophic injury that occurred on that day,” Bratton said. Faced with a flood of claims and lawsuits in the wake of a melee at a May Day rally in MacArthur Park, City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo on Friday asked for $1.1 million to create a special unit of attorneys to review the cases. The proposed May Day unit would consist of eight attorneys and support staff to review and process the more than 200 claims and lawsuits already filed against the city. “If additional staffing is not provided, outside counsel would be required to handle these cases,” Delgadillo wrote to the City Council. Delgadillo’s request is the latest development after the park protest, which has drawn complaints and investigations into how the Los Angeles Police Department responded to demonstrators, with officers firing rubber bullets and using batons on members of the crowd and news media. On Thursday, attorneys for 164 people at the park that day filed claims against the city for an undetermined amount of money and the right to file a class-action lawsuit against the city to force changes in how the LAPD deals with demonstrations. To ensure that the city is able to process the claims in the required 45 days, Delgadillo said he needs more staff. Twelve attorneys are now working in the Police Litigation Unit, with each one already handling 15 to 18 cases. Delgadillo also said other attorneys in his office have equally full caseloads. Delgadillo said he wants to keep the cases in-house, citing the money saved from the last major demonstration involving the LAPD’s use of force at the 2000 Democratic National Convention. “In that instance, our in-house unit saved $15 million in payouts and more than $1 million in outside counsel costs,” Delgadillo said. The city attorney estimated the new attorneys would be needed for up to three years. Delgadillo said he believes the costs could be covered using a fund into which the city has paid more than $800,000 over the years to use when it seeks to condemn property. The funds are excess amounts that have been accumulated over the years and, with interest, could bring in $1.5 million, Delgadillo estimated. City Council President Eric Garcetti will ask the council to quickly review the proposal when members return next week from a three-week recess and meetings of the League of California Cities. “The council and the Budget Committee will give this request from the city attorney a substantive and thorough review so that the city may continue to address the legal issues stemming from the serious incidents that took place in MacArthur Park on May 1,” Garcetti spokesman Josh Kamensky said. A spokesman for Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said the mayor was wary of creating the unit. “The city attorney is going to have to make a much better case as to why this level of staffing will be necessary to handle these cases,” spokesman Matt Szabo said. rick.orlov@dailynews.com (213) 978-0390160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img

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