LA Police Report Blames Planning, Training for May Day Immigration Rally Melee

A police report released Tuesday blamed problems in planning, training and policy for a May Day melee in which officers in riot gear pummeled news media and demonstrators at an immigration rally.

The 90-page report to the city's civilian Police Commission echoed previous conclusions by the police chief and made a host of recommendations for changes in the way the Los Angeles Police Department handles confrontations.

Police had several chances to stop the violence during the confrontation, the report said.

"Instead, the failing leadership, breakdown in supervision and breakdown in personal discipline caused those without full situational awareness to take action without understanding how their decisions might affect the final outcome," the report concluded.

Beyond the problems with planning and tactics, "the larger issue was the fact that not a single supervisor or member of the command staff involved attempted to intervene," the report said.

The report to the civilian Los Angeles Police Commission recommended that the LAPD improve communication between commanders and officers during public events.

It also recommended putting officers' names or serial numbers on their helmets and vests to make them more easily identifiable.

Police also should annually review crowd control policies "including use of force," the report said.

All of the recommendations will be implemented by the department within a year, the report said.

The report did not address the issue of how officers involved in the melee should be disciplined. That is being handled in a separate LAPD process.

Since the May 1 melee, there has been a staff shake-up at the Police Department. Lawsuits have been filed. Several investigations were launched. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa has said he was "deeply, personally troubled" by the violence.

The clash in MacArthur Park, near downtown, broke out after officers reported being targeted by as many as 50 "agitators" throwing rocks and bottles.

Police Chief William Bratton has said a breakdown in police command led officers to respond with force, swing batons and fire dozens of bean bags, sponges and other "non-lethal" projectiles to disperse a crowd of demonstrators and journalists in the park.

He also faulted poor communication and planning. "It all broke down," Bratton has said.

No one was seriously hurt, but images of baton-wielding officers knocking people to the ground played repeatedly on newscasts.

The city is facing hundreds of lawsuits stemming from the melee. Last month, a claim was filed against the city on behalf of 164 people who say they were injured by officers.

Since then 10 lawsuits and 94 other claims have been filed as well.