L.A. police have arrested three people and charged two of them in the Dodger Stadium beating case, and police Chief Charlie Beck said he wants to "tell the world" that Giovanni Ramirez, who police originally arrested, is no longer a suspect in the high-profile case that began on Opening Day in March.
The confirmation came 24 hours after the Los Angeles Times first broke the story based on an unnamed law enforcement source.
Two of the arrested were Louie Sanchez, 29, and Marvin Norwood, 30, who were taken into custody Thursday morning at two different Inland Empire locations, according to the Times.
Sanchez and Norwood are accused of cutting Bryan Stow's tongue and disfiguring his face, according to charging documents filed in court Friday. Both are being held on suspicion of committing mayhem and remained in custody Friday in lieu of $500,000 bail.
The Associated Press, citing an unnamed law enforcement official, reported that the the two men made incriminating statements that implicated them in the attack, but police don't have forensic evidence to use against them.
A third person, Dorene Sanchez, also was arrested Thursday on suspicion of being an accessory after the fact to a felony.
Police had arrested Ramirez in May for the beating that left San Francisco Giants fan Bryan Stow near death. Stow suffered brain damage in the March 31 beating and is still in serious condition.
At the time of the May arrest, Beck and others said they were confident they had the right man. But they never pressed formal charges against him.
In June, Beck transferred the investigation to the elite Robbery Homicide division. He said in an interview that the case was based "hugely on eyewitness accounts ... which can be hard to prove in court."
At Friday's new conference, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa seemed to defend the police work: "I am proud of the job our detectives have done. ... Like every case it's been an ongoing investigation. ... The process has worked."
Some thought it was odd that police maintained a long silence even after the news of the arrests broke.
"Silence on the LAPD front is remarkable in its own right," L.A. Times reporter Joel Rubin told the Madeleine Brand Show Friday morning. "They did quite the opposite the first time around when they took Giovanni Ramirez into custody," he said, adding that Villaraigosa and Beck had been "vociferous and decisive" they had the right man.
Jose Romero, one of Ramirez's attorneys, told KPCC's Larry Mantle that only one of seven witnesses were able to identify Ramirez in a six-person lineup. The only other evidence he knows of against his client, he says, was "the ridiculous assertion of Giovanni's parole officer that 'Hey, he looks like the guy in the billboard, and he got this new tattoo'."
Romero said he thinks LAPD were pressured to make an arrest, though avoided attacking the police investigation itself and said police acted in good faith: "I think a lot of people in this town were ready to jump the gun," Romero said. "Because we're dealing with a tragedy."
Ramirez, a documented gang member, was never charged with attacking Stow, but in late June he was sent to prison for 10 months for violating his parole because a gun was found in the apartment where he was staying. He's being held in San Diego.
Ramirez's mother told reporters today that she wants an apology from LAPD, and she hopes her son is able to come home soon.
"If you don’t have any proof, why did you put the picture of him in public and say he is the suspect, he is the first primary suspect? That’s wrong," she said.
Romero, whose client was tracked down by police after he was fingered by his parole agent, said he never doubted his client was innocent: "I am still adamant that Giovanni Ramirez has committed no crime," he said. He added that it was too soon to comment on whether Ramirez will sue the city over the arrest, saying that would be up to his client.
Correction: This story stated that three people had been charged in the case. Only two men have been charged. The third person, a woman, has only been arrested. We apologize for the error.
KPCC's Larry Mantle and Madeleine Brand, and NPR's Ina Jaffe contributed to this report, which includes material from The Associated Press