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Prosecutors expected to charge more than a dozen protesters in Westlake unrest

September 13, 2010 |  1:23 pm


L.A. city prosecutors said they expect to charge more than a dozen people in the series of street protests that occurred in the Westlake district last week after a police shooting of a Guatemalan immigrant.

City prosecutors are now reviewing evidence presented by the Los Angeles Police Department against people who allegedly attacked officers or refused to follow their orders during the protests, said Jenaro Batiz-Romero, a spokesman for the city attorney's office.

Officials are looking at police reports, video news footage and witness accounts in building the cases.

City prosecutors on Monday charged a Los Angeles man with four counts of assault in connection with slingshot attacks on two police officers during one of the protests.

The criminal complaint filed by the Los Angeles city attorney's office alleges that 24-year-old Daniel Cortez used a slingshot to "hurl semi-round-shaped projectiles" at LAPD officers Lt. Juan Gonzalez and Sgt. Daniel Horan.

Cortez, who was charged with two counts of assault on a police officer and two counts of assault with a deadly weapon, is being held in lieu of $26,000 bail. If convicted on all counts, Cortez faces the possibility of one year in jail and a $10,000 fine. 

City prosecutors said that a preliminary investigation has found that Cortez did not have a criminal record and was not associated with groups that were described by the LAPD as "agitators," who officials said fueled violence in the aftermath of the Sept. 5 fatal shooting of Manuel Ramirez.

Authorities allege that Cortez was one of roughly 300 people who gathered last Wednesday at 6th Street and Union Avenue to protest the death of a 37-year-old day laborer, who was fatally shot after brandishing a knife and lunging at officers.

The shooting sparked several days of protests near the site of the incident. The largest gathering took place last Tuesday, when 300 protesters gathered at the LAPD's Rampart Station, some hurling eggs at police cars and others throwing objects at the station windows.

-- Andrew Blankstein

Photo: Last week, Karen Zaldana lights candles that were extinguished overnight at a makeshift memorial at 6th Street and Union Avenue, where a 37-year-old Guatemalan-born day laborer was shot and killed by an LAPD officer Sunday. Credit: Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times