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Charges filed against man who struck officer at L.A. May Day rally

May 4, 2012 |  1:55 pm

Prosecutors have filed assault charges against a 23-year-old transient who is alleged to have struck a female Los Angeles Police Department officer in the back of the head with a drum during a May Day rally.

Brian Mendoza could spend up to nine years in state prison if convicted in the incident. He is scheduled to be arraigned after 1:30 p.m. Friday at the Foltz Criminal Justice Center.

He faces two felony charges, assault on a peace officer and assault on a public official, and two misdemeanor charges, assault on a peace officer and battery with injury to a peace officer. Prosecutors will ask for bail to be set at $130,000.

The incident in downtown Los Angeles was captured on video and uploaded to YouTube under the title "Cheap Shot on Cop." In it, a man dressed in a black T-shirt and black hoodie is seen approaching the helmeted female officer, circling around behind her and striking her on the back of the head with the item before running off.

Mendoza is nearly 6 feet tall and weighs 280 pounds, according to the sources. The female officer, who suffered a partial concussion, is about 5'1" and weighs 115 pounds, police officials said. The impact of the blow jerked her head forward and dented her helmet, officials said.

Police are continuing to search for several masked suspects who attacked officers with a large wooden pallet in a separate incident.

The incidents unfolded when officers issued a call for help at 4th and Hill streets at about 4:20 p.m. Tuesday when demonstrators, many from the Occupy movement, began circling officers and chanting, "We are the 99%."  The crowd swelled as officers arrived by bicycle, motorcycle and on foot to quell the brewing confrontation.

At least 14 arrests were reported Tuesday, including three in North Hollywood, one downtown involving a false bomb threat against a bank, and 10 predesignated detentions at Los Angeles International Airport.

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-- Esmeralda Bermudez

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