In a scathing self-critique, the Los Angeles Police Department yesterday blamed the May 1 MacArthur Park melee involving officers, immigration protesters, and journalists on a series of fateful decisions by police commanders that escalated hostilities and resulted in a widespread breakdown in discipline and behavior by officers, the Los Angeles Times reports. The findings came as Police Chief William Bratton announced that at least 26 officers participating in the incident are under internal investigation and could face discipline for using excessive force.
The report is the latest effort by Bratton and Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa to quell an outcry over the incident, in which TV news footage showed officers swinging batons and firing less-than-lethal rounds at journalists and protesters gathered at the park for an afternoon rally. The melee left 246 journalists and protesters as well as 18 officers with injuries; more than 250 legal claims have been filed against the city. The report paints a disturbing picture of commanders who failed to plan adequately for the event, refused to bring in more officers when tensions escalated, issued confusing and contradictory orders, and failed to control officers. It found that officers repeatedly used their weapons in ways that violated policy and appeared not to follow basic training guidelines.