Crime & Justice

UPDATE: Charges not filed against USC students arrested after noisy parties (VIDEO)

LAPD officers responding to a USC house party noise disturbance Saturday, May 4, 2013.
LAPD officers responding to a USC house party noise disturbance Saturday, May 4, 2013.
Lamar Gary/YouTube

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Update 5:00 p.m.: Charges against students not dropped

The Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office issued a statement Thursday afternoon clarifying that the six USC students who were arrested could still face misdemeanor charges: 

"Contrary to widespread news reports, the Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office has not dropped charges against six USC students arrested during an off-campus party May 4, 2013."

"Fred Dorton who represents the six USC students spoke to news agencies this afternoon and conveyed the impression that the case against his clients had been dropped.  This is not true."

"No decision has been made on filing the case.  The City Attorney’s Office is gathering evidence and the case remains under review."

The students held a protest Thursday morning outside the Central Arraignment Court building near the county jail downtown where they were scheduled to attend an arraignment hearing.

The defense attorney for the students, Fred Dorton, told KPCC after the protest that his clients are not facing any charges at the moment.

“So they were actually charged with crimes by the LAPD, however, the city attorney’s office never filed a formal complaint in court,” he said.

Four of the students arrested were accused of failure to disperse, two on suspicion of non-cooperation with the investigation.

Dorton said he has presented to the city attorney’s office video taken by students who were at the house party when the arrests were made. He said the video shows that the students arrested did comply with police orders to disperse.

“The arrests occurred about a half-mile away from where the actual party was and where the order to disperse was (given),” Dorton said. "In fact the students were walking back to campus or their homes and they were cut off by LAPD officers." 

He said a seventh student, accused of taking a swing at a police officer, was arrested for a felony. But Dorton said prosecutors have not moved forward with formal charges in the case.

Update 1:21 p.m.: Charges not yet filed

Misdemeanor charges were not filed Thursday against six USC students who were arrested when police shut down a pair of loud parties earlier this month, leading to allegations of racial profiling by officers, according to their attorney.

Attorney Fred Dorton announced the development during a rally outside an L.A. courthouse where the group had been scheduled for arraignment, NBC Los Angeles reported.

But officials with the Los Angeles City Attorney's Office later said in a statement that the investigation continues and the students could still be charged with crimes.

CORRECTION: This story has been changed from an earlier version to reflect that the prosecution did not drop the charges against the students. KPCC regrets the error.

A compilation of video taken of LAPD's response to the party:

The students were arrested early May 4 when police responded to reports of noise from two parties near Hoover and 23rd streets. Some witnesses contended police used excessive force and engaged in racial profiling by arresting people at a party attended primarily by black students, but making no arrests at a party across the street attended primarily by white students.

Los Angeles Police Department officials said the complaints were being investigated.

According to the LAPD, officers received complaints about two loud parties around 2 a.m. May 4. They responded to the first party and warned participants to turn down the music and reduce the noise, police said. Officers then walked across the street to the second party to issue the same warning, but while they were there, the noise level from the first party rose again, police said.

Officers returned to the first party to cite the organizer, but some partygoers began throwing bottles and debris at the officers, prompting a larger police response, according to the LAPD.

Six people were arrested.

Some of the arrested students told NBC-LA Thursday they were glad to put the situation behind them.

"Just like I don't want [police] to look at me like a criminal, I don't look at them all like they're racist or they're evil," student Jason Sneed told NBC-LA. "You know, there are some good people that actually want to save this city."

Student Debbie Rumbo told the station the students were trying to ensure something positive comes out of the situation.

"We're not just students that are angry and that are ranting about how LAPD needs to do this or that," she said. "We're students that are actually trying to ... facilitate meetings aimed at bettering that. And I think that that's the most important aspect that I've learned."