The 40th birthday party for one of Rafaela Ramirez’ daughters in the City of San Fernando on Saturday, July 27, ended in a fight between partygoers and officers from the San Fernando Police Department (SFPD), and left several people and officers injured.
Another of Ramirez’ daughters was arrested, along with three other people detained for supposedly attacking the police officers.
However, Ramirez denies this assertion and says that it was the police officers who were aggressive. The family is even contemplating retaining a lawyer for what they believe is a case of excessive police force.
According to a SFPD press release, “officers responded for a third time to a residence” on the 700 block of Fourth Street at 1:48 a.m. on Sunday in reference to a loud music call. When four officers arrived at the home, they encountered a crowd “of approximately 30 individuals who were verbally agitated and resistant.”
“Officers directed the crowd to disperse and a male suspect threw a bottle striking an officer in the upper body. Officers attempted to effect an arrest and they were attacked by multiple individuals in the crowd,” according to the press release.
A cell phone video that was shared with the media shows a melee where the officers — armed with batons and pepper spray— pushed, shoved, and get into an outright fight with several of the party goers, two of whom are seen with blood pouring from their heads after they have been put in handcuffs. Two of the officers are also seen in the video putting ice packs on their heads after the brawl.
Police Chief Tony Vairo told the San Fernando Valley Sun/El Sol that two of his officers — an Asian male and a female — were thrown to the ground during the altercation. Two of the officers were also “kicked several times by suspects” and the fight “continued inside the house.”
The confrontation began at the driveway to the house, but continued in the backyard where the party was taking place. There is a house at the front of the property and a room attached to the garage in the back.
All four police officers were taken to the hospital for observation following the fracas, and were released Sunday morning. Earlier this week they were at home, “pretty sore,” Vairo said.
“Our officers were in a fight, exhausted and outnumbered,” Vario added, and that’s why SFPD called for backup from the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) Foothill and Mission divisions, and even Los Angeles Unified School District Police.
Four people at the party were arrested: Rosa Ramirez, 36, a resident of San Fernando; Anthony Diaz, 28, a resident of Arleta; Daniel Morales, 27 and Alejandro Navarro, 22, both from Downey.
Felony assault charges were filed against all four on Tuesday, July 30, at the San Fernando Courthouse by prosecutors from the LA county District Attorney’s Office.
Navarro is charged with three felony counts of assault upon a police officer (SFPD officers Robert Park, Jonathan Zibli and Brittany Najera). Ramirez, Morales and Diaz were each charged with one felony count of assault upon a police officer and four felony counts of resisting an executive officer. Navarro, Morales and Ramirez all pleaded not guilty. The arraignment for Diaz on Sept. 9 in San Fernando. Vairo praised his officers, saying “it could have gotten a lot worse” and contends that the fault isn't with his officers but the family who held the party for "allowing the party to get out of control."
Police Were “Aggressive”
Rafaela Ramirez, owner of the home located between Newton Street and Griswold Avenue, a short distance away from the San Fernando Courthouse, denies the police account of the episode.
“It’s a lie,” she said Monday evening, July 29, at the entrance of her home, still shaken up by the altercation and worried about her daughter, Rosa Ramirez, who was still detained at the SFPD.
“They (the police) hit two young men very badly,” she said. “They hit them with the batons. They got stitches on their heads from the baton hits.”
She said that the party was ending and they were picking up, and said the Police had only showed up once before, not twice. When they arrived, one of the officers — whom she described as an Asian male — was acting “prepotent” and “aggressive.”
“That man came here already acting violently,” Ramirez said.
She also said that at the most, there were between 12-16 people present at the house by the time the officers arrived there — most of them family members — and not 30 as the police claims.
Another young man who was at the party said the officers didn’t give them a chance to follow their orders and began swinging the batons and hitting people, prompting the reaction from those trying to protect themselves and loved ones.
“In a second (the Asian officer) brought out his baton and started hitting people,” said the young man, who did not identify himself.
Ramirez said the officers even pushed the small children present at the party and they pepper-sprayed the crowd, which is when “I got blocked out.”
She doesn’t know what happened afterwards because she was blinded by the pepper spray, she said her husband’s glasses were broken as he found himself in the middle of the melee. She added the children are now afraid of the police.
SFPD Chief Vairo Stands by Police
Vairo said he was also bewildered by the reaction they faced from the party attendees when they responded to the loud music call.
He noted that in the summer there are a lot of parties in the city and “99.9% of the time it’s resolved positively” with a first warning. But in this instance, the guests “were intoxicated at a level higher than it should have been, and people don’t make the correct decision.”
Vairo added that “it’s been years” since something like this has happened in the City and a call “turned violent toward officers.”
He recommended to others having parties that they should contact their surrounding neighbors to let them know ahead of time, “make sure you are aware of what’s going on” with your guests, and also “be cautious of the amount of alcohol consumption.”
Something that apparently didn’t happen in this case, he said.
“It’s a shame. It didn’t have to be that way,” Vairo said. “Now they have to answer for what they’ve done.”
But Ramirez says she’s still shaken by the violent episode. “I was left in shock,” she said. “I didn’t expect the police to act in such an ugly way.”