The videotaped LAPD take-down of college student Ronald Weekley, Jr. has some in Venice's African American community concerned about police tactics.
The department says the West Bureau violent crime task force to which the officers belong has since been reassigned to other areas as the investigation into the videotaped pile-on continues.
Those cops are out of Venice, but not for the reasons you might think:
Capt. Brian P. Johnson of the LAPD's Pacific Division said those officers have indeed been pulled from Venice and haven't been there since Weekley's confrontation two weeks ago. He told folks at a community meeting this week as much.
However, it's not because the task force is under scrutiny.
Two years ago the team was sent in to Venice in an effort to keep order during crowded weekend days, Johnson told the Weekly.
It has been needed. An influx of transient youths from the Pacific Northwest paired with gang activity and violent confrontations along the beach added up to bloodshed last summer, for example.
They have been deployed in Venice for over the last two years on a very regular basis and we never had any issues.
Now, Johnson says, the cops are needed in other parts of the city where gang shootings have set off alarms. (Another LAPD official confirmed this).
Weekley was tackled by four officers two Saturday's ago in Venice's Oakwood neighborhood after he refused to stop for cops who said he was riding a skateboard on the wrong side of the street.
Video shows that he's punched in the face once after cops piled on.
Supporters of Weekley, who has lawyered up, have started a petition on change.org calling for an “end” to “police brutality” and asking that prosecution for allegedly resisting arrest (the 20-year-old also had a handful of warrants over his head) be abandoned.
Meanwhile, the captain asked for patience as investigators dig deep into the case.
We just gotta be patient. These investigations are very complex and very thorough and just take time. I'm asking everybody to take time and understand that.
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