Crime & Justice

Bike rider files claim against LAPD following 'Critical Mass' incident

Manuel Gallegos, who recorded a YouTube video showing LAPD officers hitting bike riders with batons, holds a press conference to announce his claim against the LAPD in Downtown Los Angeles on June 4, 2010.
Manuel Gallegos, who recorded a YouTube video showing LAPD officers hitting bike riders with batons, holds a press conference to announce his claim against the LAPD in Downtown Los Angeles on June 4, 2010.
Collin Robinson/KPCC

The Los Angeles man who filmed the viral YouTube video "Hollywood Cops Attack Bike Riders," and who was apparently tackled to the ground while filming, filed a claim today against the LAPD alleging assault by police.

Manuel Gallegos, 32, alleges that police tackled, dragged him off his bicycle and beat and kicked him while he was recording officers with his iPhone after 9:30 p.m. on May 28 on Hollywood Boulevard near Highland Avenue.

The claim - a precursor to a lawsuit - alleges assault, battery, false arrest, false imprisonment, malicious prosecution, and intentional infliction of emotional distress. The claim also alleges negligence against the police.

"They tackled me, dragged me off my bike, beat me, and dragged me over to the side where they had us on our knees for a long period of time.," said Gallego, during a press conference at the downtown offices of his attorney Hermez Moreno. "I still have bruises and deep cuts in my knees."

Gallegos was cycling as part of the monthly "Los Angeles Critical Mass" bike ride.

Between 9:30 and 9:45 p.m., Gallegos was traveling east on Hollywood when he saw cops hit bike riders with their batons and trying to stick their batons into the spokes in an "attempt to make the cyclists topple and fall," according to the claim, which was filed with the Los Angeles City Clerk's Office on Friday.

Gallegos said he started recording the scene when he says he saw cops pull a young boy off his bike, according to the claim.

The video captured an LAPD officer kicking at the tire of a bike rider and other officers trying to stick a baton between the spokes of other bicyclists.

Police turned their attention to Gallegos when Gallegos could be heard shouting "What the xxxx was that all about?"

"You could tell they were picking and choosing who they wanted to arrest, and they picked me because of my phone," said Gallegos as he pulled his phone from his suit jacket to show the damages. "When I reached for it the officer said 'I got it, I got it,' and the video shows him stepping on it."

Police handcuffed and held Gallegos for 45 minutes him on a "traffic citation containing false and fabricated violations of the California Vehicle Code."

Gallegos claims he suffered nerve damage in his left wrist from handcuffs that were too tight.

Gallegos' attorney, Hermez Moreno, threatened to file a civil rights claim.

"This action will be one in a long list of lawsuits against the city and its police officers for the culture of violence against the community of Los Angeles that has gone on for far too long," Moreno said.

The LAPD became aware of the video Wednesday and has launched an internal affairs investigation into the case.

Police did not comment on the claim, but said in a press release that bike cops from the LAPD's Hollywood Division were enforcing red light violations that night.

"As officers attempted to detain several bicyclists, a reported use of force was captured on video," police said in a press release.

"In response to what we learned, we immediately launched a full-scale investigation to determine the facts surrounding the events,” said LAPD Assistant Chief Earl Paysinger. "The Departments Professional Standards Bureau has taken the lead in the inquiry and the Police Commission’s Inspector General has also been made fully aware of the matter."

Police said they have been working closely with representatives of the biking community since November 2009 to improve relations and make the streets safer.

"It's our hope that the relationship we've developed with the biking community over the past months will be strengthened even more as we continue to work together to find solutions to difficult circumstances such as these," said LAPD

The Sunday incident is the second such case in four months.

In February, a video depicting an encounter between a police officer and a street photographer came to the attention of the Los Angeles Police Department and sparked an internal investigation.