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LAPD chief defends investigation of Bryan Stow beating case

July 22, 2011 |  5:53 pm

Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck and Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa on Friday lauded the investigative work that led to the arrest of two men in connection with the brutal beating of San Francisco Giants fan Bryan Stow at Dodger Stadium.

Louie Sanchez, 29, and Marvin Norwood, 30, were charged Friday with one count each of mayhem, assault by means likely to produce great bodily injury and battery with serious bodily injury, all felonies. The complaint alleges that both men personally inflicted great bodily injury on Stow.

The men remain in custody in lieu of $500,000 bail each.

Speaking at an afternoon news conference Friday, Beck defended his department’s May arrest of the initial suspect in the case, Giovanni Ramirez. The investigation into Ramirez, however, stalled almost immediately as detectives failed to link him to the beating.

Beck noted that the burden of proof in an arrest is different than that of a conviction and that information on Ramirez at the time met that burden.

"We tirelessly pursued the truth wherever it led us and without prejudice," Beck said. "It’s just as important to find out someone is innocent as it is to find out they are guilty ... Unfortunately, it took a long time to gather information that exonerated Mr. Ramirez ... My credibility is very important to me and it’s very important that the public believes in the Police Department and in their police chief. It’s important to do the right thing, even when it’s a hard thing, a difficult thing. That’s what this is about, about the character of the Police Department."

Beck and Villaraigosa declined to discuss details about the arrests of the suspects.

Sanchez and Norwood were taken into custody Thursday morning in raids on two Inland Empire locations.

A third suspect in the case, Dorene Sanchez, also was arrested Thursday on suspicion of being an accessory after the fact to a felony, police records show. She was released from custody early Friday morning after posting $50,000 bail, records show, and did not immediately return calls for comment.

Norwood, according to arrest records, is 6 feet 4 and weighs 250 pounds, roughly matching the description witnesses gave to police of one of the people responsible for the March 31 assault on Stow.

Records show that Louie Sanchez is 5 feet 11 and weighs 175 pounds, measurements that also are close to the description witnesses gave of the second assailant.

Fontana police described Sanchez as having neck tattoos when he was arrested for drunk driving in 2005, according to court records. The Los Angeles Police Department has described one of the assailants in the Stow attack as having possible tattoos on his neck.

The arrest of the trio marked a dramatic turn in the investigation into the beating on opening day in the stadium parking lot, which left Stow with brain damage. The attack has garnered national attention and placed intense pressure on the LAPD, city officials and the Dodgers organization to calm fears of violence and lawlessness among fans.

In May, police took Ramirez into custody and Beck described him repeatedly as the prime suspect. The investigation into Ramirez, however, stalled as detectives scoured cellphone records, thousands of images from surveillance camera footage, financial records and hundreds of other possible links and tips, but failed to link him to the beating.

Without any hard evidence, prosecutors declined to bring criminal charges against Ramirez. Instead, police held him in custody for violating the terms of his parole from a previous conviction. Last month, Ramirez was sentenced to 10 months in prison for the violation.

Stow, a father of two, was walking through the Dodger Stadium parking lot with two friends after the Dodgers’ victory over the Giants when he was attacked.

Stow, who lives in Santa Cruz and works as a Santa Clara County paramedic, was wearing Giants apparel and was taunted by two men, police said. One of the assailants blindsided Stow with blows to the back and head, police said.

The two assailants repeatedly kicked and punched Stow while he was on the ground. After he appeared to make progress in recent weeks, Stow’s condition took a turn for the worse this week when he suffered seizures and underwent emergency surgery.


Complex portrait emerges of new suspects in Bryan Stow beating

Bryan Stow tries to give 'thumbs up' to medical staff

Family of Giovanni Ramirez slams LAPD's handling of Bryan Stow case

-- Abby Sewell and Jack Leonard

Photo: LAPD Chief Charlie Beck, left, and Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa talked to the press after three new suspects were arrested in connection with the beating of Bryan Stow.

Credit: Bob Chamberlin / Los Angeles Times