LOS ANGELES – Three Los Angeles men were arrested in relation to a videotaped freeway fistfight inspired by road rage — two are suspected of beating and kicking a man who was later arrested on suspicion of being involved in a similar altercation last month, authorities said Thursday.
David Mendez, 21, and Edras Ramirez, 27, turned themselves in to a California Highway Patrol investigative services office in Hollywood at about 7:30 p.m. Wednesday and were arrested on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon, CHP Officer Ming Hsu said.
The man who was beaten in the video, identified as Jerry Patterson, was arrested without incident in Altadena on an outstanding warrant on suspicion of DUI, hit and run and assault in a May 25 incident, the California Highway Patrol told NBC4-TV on Thursday (http://bit.ly/O01WVS).
Hsu said it was unclear why Mendez and Ramirez surrendered. However, a video of the June 12 freeway fight clearly showed the faces of two men who grappled with the victim and also had the license plate of the getaway car.
The video became a minor sensation after being posted on YouTube and it was widely aired Wednesday by television news stations.
The CHP said it received reports of a fight on a transition road to the northbound Interstate 5 in East Los Angeles on the afternoon of June 12 but officers arriving minutes later found everyone had left.
Nobody involved in the fight went to a hospital or contacted the CHP.
"We had no reports, no victim, until this (video) surfaced," Hsu said. "So without this video we more than likely wouldn't have heard about it."
CHP investigators only learned about the video this week after it had drawn more than 100,000 viewings on YouTube.
Taken from a passing car, the video showed three men confronting Patterson, wearing a red shirt, next to two cars parked in a freeway lane.
Patterson and a bald man begin to fight and another man jumps in. Patterson is dragged to the ground and flails until he suddenly appears to collapse.
Both of his attackers then take turns kicking him in the head as he lays either dazed or unconscious on the pavement.
They and the third man then drive off.
Initially, it wasn't clear whether the video was real or staged.
However, Patterson came forward Wednesday, giving an interview to KCAL-TV.
"I made a simple driving mistake and cut them off unintentionally, and it just escalated from there," Patterson told the television station. "It just spiraled out of control, and I felt I didn't have any choice — either get beat up in my car or get out and fight."
He said he had little recollection of the altercation, Patterson told KABC-TV he had suffered a concussion.
In the incident last month, Belmont Shore resident James Poole told NBC4 that he recognized Patterson as a man who was driving recklessly through the area and began following him.
Poole says Patterson pulled over, began arguing and hit him.
Nancy Castles of the Long Beach Police Department confirmed the incident to NBC4, saying Patterson fled after a collision and assaulted Poole.
Poole told NBC4 that Patterson yelled and screamed and told him that he'd saved millions of American lives and that he was on a mission for the FBI.
Patterson indicated that he learned his lesson from the most recent conflict.
"Twenty-20 hindsight — stay in the car, call authorities. Don't let your ego get in the way. It's not worth it," he said to KCAL-TV.
CHP investigators don't know who recorded the video, Hsu said.
California has no law requiring people to intervene in violent or crime situations, although it does protect good Samaritans who step in, Hsu said.