Skateboarder thought he was 'going to die' during alleged cop beating
This post has been corrected, as indicated below.
A 20-year-old Venice skateboarder who was allegedly beaten on camera by Los Angeles police laid out disturbing new details Tuesday, saying that he thought he was "going to die" as he was punched in the head four times.
A video captured on cellphone shows four LAPD officers on top of Ronald Weekley Jr. As three officers wrestle with him on the ground, one officer appears to punch Weekley in the face repeatedly.
LAPD officials said the department's internal affairs unit is investigating the allegations.
At a news conference at a church in Venice on Tuesday, attorney Benjamin Crump said his client suffered a concussion, broken cheekbone and broken nose from the beating. Crump’s office said they would provide medical records but had not yet released them.
“Why did they assault and confront this college student?” Crump asked. “Was it because he was on the wrong side of the road, or was it because he was the wrong color?”
In a crisp white button-down shirt, Weekley, who is African American and is studying chemistry at Xavier University in Louisiana, appeared alongside his family and two women who said they had witnessed the beating. Crump said Weekley had been on a liquid diet since the attack and remained in pain. Weekley did not appear to have any visible injuries, but he broke down in tears while speaking.
“I was opening the door to my apartment when I was attacked from behind. They grabbed my hair and my back and tried to smash my face into the ground,” he said. “I started screaming and yelling because I thought I was going to die.”
Then Weekley trailed off and buried his face in his hands and his head on his mother’s shoulder. He later said he blacked out during the beating.
"The next thing I remember was being in the back of the car, asking 'Why me? Why did I get stopped?'" Weekley said. He said the officer called him a "dumb ass" and said he didn't stop at the stop sign.
Weekley was skateboarding about 6 p.m. Saturday near his home at the corner of Sunset and Sixth avenues, in traffic, when he encountered authorities.
Cmdr. Andrew Smith said officers tried to stop Weekley, who was riding his skateboard on the wrong side of the street, when he attempted to flee. Officers then struggled to control Weekley and used force to handcuff and subdue him, Smith said.
Weekley was arrested on suspicion of resisting arrest and on three outstanding warrants. Crump said the warrants related to curfew and bicycle riding violations when Weekley was 16 and driving without a license when he was 18.
When Weekley asked to see his family while in jail, Crump said another officer on site told an officer involved in the beating: "Y'all didn’t beat him good enough." Crump added that his client was not read his Miranda rights until his second day in jail.
Crump said he wants all charges against his client dropped immediately and wants the officers involved “held accountable to the full extent of the law.”
A community rally for Weekley is scheduled for 4 p.m. Wednesday at 610 6th Ave., where the incident occurred.
[For the Record, 5:30 p.m. Aug. 21: An earlier version of this post and its headline quoted Ronald Weekley Jr. claiming that he was called a "dumb ape" by police. In fact, his attorney alleges that police called Weekley a "dumb ass."]
-- Matt Stevens and Richard Winton