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2 officers hurt in Los Angeles Lakers victory clashes; downtown property damaged [Updated]

June 18, 2010 |  7:29 am

Los Angeles city officials and downtown L.A. merchants were assessing the damage Friday morning after unruly fans celebrating the Lakers victory in the NBA Finals rampaged through the streets around Staples Center.

The Los Angeles Police Department deployed a huge force of officers hoping to prevent the looting and violence that occurred after last year's Lakers championship win. But although the situation in and around Staples Center was calm, there were scattered problems elsewhere downtown.

Crowds broke windows of storefronts, jumped on cars, set at least 15 small fires and threw objects at police.

The LAPD reported 38 arrests. There were also several injuries, but the exact number was not clear.

An LAPD officer was hit in the head by an object apparently thrown at him and suffered a broken nose.

A Los Angeles sheriff's deputy was hit in the head with a rock at a light rail station platform, said Sheriff's Capt. Mike Parker.

At 7th and Flower streets, a crowd of more than 500 people surrounded a Metro bus and numerous people attempted to pull the bus driver out through the driver's side window, Parker said. Deputies deployed tear gas and sting balls, causing the crowd to disperse. They rescued the bus driver and the occupants of the bus.

A taxi driver was attacked, and his taxi was set on fire, Parker said. While rescuing him, rocks and bottles were thrown at deputies, who used sting balls and stun bags to break up the crowd, he said. They rescued the driver and, with the help of LAPD officers, took him out of the area.

Police fired non-lethal rounds to disperse a crowd at Figueroa Street and Venice Boulevard after several small fires were set. Fires were also set at 11th and Hope streets, and at 7th and Flower streets, a taxicab was engulfed in flames.

At least one person was beaten as fights broke out on Flower Street near Olympic Boulevard, officials said. A bicyclist was injured when struck by a Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department vehicle near 11th and Flower streets, according to the Los Angeles Police Department.

At La Bella Cucina, in the 900 block of Figueroa Street, customers began throwing bottles, knocking over tables and stealing bottles of liquor, said restaurant manager Christian LaBella.

"I think it's pretty sad, especially when customers turn on you so quickly," LaBella said late Thursday. "They lost respect for themselves, they lost respect for the Lakers, and they lost respect for the restaurant. It's a shame for L.A."

"A lot of stupid, stupid people out here tonight," added Edward Lizama, 42, who lives in an apartment near 9th and Olive streets. "This isn't people having fun. It's ridiculous."

The violence broke out shortly after the game ended. The LAPD declared an unlawful assembly as people gathered along Figueroa Street near Olympic Boulevard. Hundreds of officers in patrol cars, on foot and on horseback moved in to clear streets and break up the crowds.

At 8th and Figueroa streets, fans and a phalanx of more than two dozen police wearing riot gear and wielding batons faced off. The standoff began when a bunch of fans tore down a traffic sign and then ripped out two newspaper stands and lighted the papers on fire. When the police marched up Figueroa, about two dozen abreast, the crowd slowly receded. Some people were throwing containers of energy drinks, which had been passed out for free after the win.

The YWCA at 11th and Olive was vandalized as taggers marked graffiti up and down the side of a wall. Another person upended a traffic sign and bashed in several windows. [For the record at 9:30 a.m.: A previous version of this post stated that a YMCA was vandalized. It was a YWCA.]

An LAPD cruiser pulled up and shined a light on the men. "Let's go. Night's over," an officer said through a loudspeaker.

-- Sam Allen, Tony Barboza, Hector Becerra, Andrew Blankstein, Paloma Esquivel, Robert Faturechi, Kate Linthicum, Robert J. Lopez, Joel Rubin, Abby Sewell and Ruben Vives

Photo credits: Gary Friedman / Los Angeles Times; Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times

Hi-res photos:
A hard-fought series

Photos: Lakers vs. Celtics,
Game 7

Photos: Lakers fans at
Game 7 of the NBA Finals