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Giovanni Ramirez's Situation 'Deeply Regrettable' For LAPD Chief Beck, He Says

LAPD Chief Charlie Beck over the weekend said Giovanni Ramirez's erroneous exposure as the main suspect in the opening day beating of San Francisco Giants fan at Dodger Stadium was "deeply regrettable."

But more than anything, Beck, in a Los Angeles Times opinion piece, seemed to blame Ramirez's predicament on the media's incessant desire for information.

Yes, chief, it's our fault that you stood before a bunch of cameras in spring and fingered the wrong guy.

El Jefe writes:

Regrettably, Giovanni Ramirez was caught between the state's right to investigate and arrest and the public's right to know what the police are doing. We support our arrest because we met our burden of proof and the media support their pursuit of the story.

Eh, back up there, Chief. While we were all salivating for an arrest -- the media, you, the mayor, and Dodgers' fans alike -- it was you and the mayor who jumped all over Ramirez despite some things that didn't totally add up (his alibi, his reported lie detector tests, the fact that he didn't entirely fit the description ...).

But he was a bad guy, a gang member with a record, and he would have to do.

On May 26 Beck told the world that Ramirez "is, and was, and has been, our primary suspect," and that he was personally "as sure as you need to be" that officers got the right guy.

If anything it was the media's questions, prompted by leaks from those sympathetic to Ramirez's case, that apparently caused you to do a double take and have different detectives take a look-see, a move that ultimately lead to Ramirez exoneration.

Before that, it felt like there was an LAPD/City Hall campaign against Ramirez. (And since the chief isn't elected, we kind of wonder who was running this media show).

In his Times editorial Beck didn't address those May comments or the apparent push against Ramirez.

Fingering the nearest con with a record is as old as any stereotypical, crooked-cop movie, but here we all viewed in live in L.A. Headlines, ready to be ripped.

So, uh, yeah, the blame lies partly with us, because we wrote stuff down. Beck:

Regrettably, Giovanni Ramirez was caught between the state's right to investigate and arrest and the public's right to know what the police are doing. We support our arrest because we met our burden of proof and the media support their pursuit of the story.

That is the state of the game, but we can do much better. We need to not merely abide by the rules but to recognize their shortfalls. I can be more circumspect in my comments, and the media should be more restrained and cautious.

The chief did admit, however, because Ramirez's "name and picture were released to the general public" ... "this caused the appearance of a rush to judgment."

Just an appearance.

[@dennisjromero/djromero@laweekly.com]


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