It's a rule as old as criminal justice itself: Punch a cop, go to jail.
Gregory Brice, 31, was sentenced today to 19 months in county jail for punching an LAPD officer during the Occupy L.A. protest at Bank of America Plaza on Nov. 17.
The City Attorney's Office, which has seen a number of its Occupy cases dismissed, touted the conviction in a press release this afternoon.
According to prosecutors, Brice shoved a security guard to get into the Bank of America Plaza protest, then ran at a line of officers. When the officers attempted to arrest him, he threw punches and hit one cop in the face. As the cops took him to the ground, he continued to kick and punch the officers.
“He felt he was doing the right thing at that moment. They were there for a cause,” said Brice's attorney, Nagmeh Shariatmadar. “He was hoping the jury would be on his side and they weren't.”
Brad Rothenberg, the deputy city attorney who handled the case, said the jury took about an hour to convict Brice on 14 misdemeanor counts. Rothenberg, who handled one other Occupy trial, said that jurors have been generally supportive of the ideas of the Occupy movement, but hostile to its approach.
“When you talk about the tactic of sleeping in the park, and occupying certain locations, juries don't like that,” Rothenberg said. “The juries have not been sympathetic at all.”
The City Attorney's Office said that of the six Occupy cases that have gone to a jury trial, five have resulted in convictions. The sixth ended in a hung jury.
Brice was among a small number of Occupy defendants who have been charged with using violence. Most have been accused of trespassing or failing to disperse.
“He's not representative of the people who were arrested at Occupy L.A.,” said Jim Lafferty, an attorney with the National Lawyers Guild, who worked on behalf of the protesters. “This was a peaceful movement from beginning to end.”
Brice has been in custody since November. In light of the Sheriffs Department's early release policy, it's not clear how much of his 19-month sentence he will serve. Brice had a prior criminal history, including a charge of felony evading in Texas, Rothenberg said.
Shariatmadar said Brice's sentence was relatively long because he refused probation. She said she would file an appeal.
Update: Here are the other cases that have gone to a jury.
Emily Francis. Convicted of resisting arrest and failure to disperse, scheduled for sentencing on Jan. 31.
Danny Johnson. Convicted of failure to disperse. Sentencing scheduled for Feb. 1.
Justin Fragosa. Convicted of failure to disperse. Sentenced to 10 days in jail, 20 days of Caltrans work, 24 months of probation.
Jason Brodsky. Convicted of failure to disperse. Sentencing scheduled for Jan. 31.
Andy Diaz. Hung jury (9-3 for conviction). Case dismissed.
All info per City Attorney's Office.