The 20-year-old Venice skateboarder whose weekend arrest sparked protests in the city has hired the attorney representing slain Florida teen Trayvon Martin and alleged on Tuesday that he was taunted after being tackled and pinned to the ground by at least four LAPD officers.
On medication for a broken nose and cheekbone, an emotional Ronald Weekley Jr. says he was punched four times during the incident, which occurred on Saturday near Sunset Boulevard and Sixth Street in Venice. Cellphone video of the incident shows one of the officers landing a single punch on Weekley’s face.
"The next thing I remember is being in the back of the car asking why me, why did I get stopped?" Weekely said during a news conference Tuesday. "The officer said because I was a ‘dumb-a’ and that I didn’t stop at the stop sign."
Weekley’s lawyer, Benjamin Crump, referenced the proliferation of cameras among the public as key in reporting these kinds of incidents.
"How many times did this happen when there are no cellphone recordings of it?" said Crump, who also represents the family of Travyon Martin, the 17-year-old killed by a neighborhood watch volunteer. The volunteer, George Zimmerman, has pleaded not guilty to a second-degree murder charge, claiming self defense. The case sparked nationwide outrage over alleged racial profiling and Florida’s controversial "Stand Your Ground Law."
The Xavier University student's altercation with police prompted outrage and bewilderment in the community, where police say spikes in crime and increased traffic to the popular tourist destination have prompted LAPD to step up enforcement. The officers that arrested Weekley were part of a violent crime task force that patrols the area on weekends, police officials said.
LAPD officials say Weekley was riding his skateboard on the wrong side of the road. He was ultimately arrested on suspicion of interfering and for three outstanding misdemeanor warrants.
The names of the officers involved have not been released, and the LAPD has declined to comment on the video. The department on Monday said an internal investigation into the arrest is underway and that if a suspect resists arrest, officers have the right to use force.
"There was a punch to the face and no matter who does that there is a punishment due and we’re going to fight until we learn what the punishment is going to be," said Cheyenne Weekley, Ronald’s sister.
A crowd witnessed the arrest.
"You could hear the licks," said witness Ernestine Anderson. “They were horrible. I thought they were going to kill him."
Demonstrators on Monday night gathered in Venice to denounce the arrest, which they called police brutality and racial profiling.