One-Time Suspect in Transgender Beating Argues LAPD Ignored Evidence - NBC Southern California

One-Time Suspect in Transgender Beating Argues LAPD Ignored Evidence

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    NEWSLETTERS

    In May 2013, a then-22-year-old Vivian Diego, a transgender woman, was brutally beaten on the streets of Hollywood, but now there's more to the story. Robert Kovacik reports for the NBC4 News at 11. (Published Wednesday, Nov. 11, 2015)

    In May 2013, then-22-year-old Vivian Diego, a transgender woman, was brutally beaten on the streets of Hollywood.

    She was hospitalized for a week with a broken jaw, broken ribs and fractured eye sockets.

    Police soon released surveillance video of four suspects and offered a $25,000 reward for information leading to them. Four men were identified as suspects from the video, and two were later arrested.

    One of those four men is now arguing that he was the victim, not Diego.

    “Somebody in LAPD decided ‘We’ve got a narrative and it’s going to be a politically correct narrative,’” said attorney Mark Geragos, who is representing Sarkis Khachatarian, who was one of the four men seen on the surveillance video, but was never arrested in connection with the beating.

    “As soon as they found out it was a transgender (LAPD officers) not only rewrote this, they suppressed the facts,” Geragos said.

    Khachatarian said the altercation was not a random act of aggression, but rather that Diego initiated the violence, information he said he shared repeatedly with the police.

    “They presented this in a way we’re the bad guys,” he said.

    “Like we were committing a hate crime, which just drove me completely insane,” he said.

    Khachatarian was then a Geek Squad employee who was with a group of friends walking down Hollywood Boulevard late at night.

    “I hear screaming, cursing,” he recalled. “ And all of sudden this person waves a knife on me and stabs me. And turns away and walks away like nothing ever happened.”

    “Where I come from that’s what’s called attempted murder,” said Geragos, his attorney.

    Geragos pointed to enhanced surveillance video, in which it appears Khachatarian was slashed across the arm and abdomen.

    “Blood, just bursting out,” Khachatarian recalled.

    His friends followed and pounced on the stranger who they said attacked him.

    The four left before police arrived.

    Shortly after the award was offered, LAPD investigators knocked on Khachatarian’s door.

    “The way that they are speaking to me, like I’m the bad guy,” he said. “I keep telling them I got stabbed.”

    Khachatarian required stitches to his arm and stomach. More than two years after the incident, he pointed to the scars that remain.

    A police report obtained by NBC4 details Khachatarian’s’ version of what happened when he and his friends encountered Vivian Diego.

    “The female then — unprovoked, swung the knife at Khachatarian’s arm,” the report read.

    A red box cutter was recovered at the scene where Diego was found.

    “(Police) had it from the very beginning,” Geragos said. Then, he said, the report filed by Khachatarian disappeared.

    “Because LAPD basically deep-sixed and hid a report,” he said.

    Last month, during the assault trial of two of Khachatarian’s friends, the existence of this police report surprised even the prosecutor.

    According to court documents, Christmas Brookens, the deputy district attorney assigned to the case, told the judge that this was “The first time I found out about this report.”

    Despite what the prosecutor said in court, the District Attorney’s office told NBC4 that they had the report but “inadvertently” failed to turn it over, and that all the details in the report were already covered in a preliminary hearing.

    Earlier in the trial, during cross examination of an LAPD officer, Geragos asked about the surveillance tape.

    “Do you have a video that shows a person stabbing?” he asked.

    “We do,” the officer replied.

    “And did you present that case to the DA’s office?” Geragos asked. The officer said he had not.

    The court considered the defense theory, that the “LAPD made a decision clearly on who was the victim and who were the suspects and manipulated their investigation.”

    After calling the missing police report “most definitely relevant,” Judge Charlaine Olmedo declared a mistrial.

    “LAPD was, like, instead of like trying to figure out what actually happened, in their mind they already knew what happened,” Khachatarian said.

    Geragos said it was because LAPD wanted their own Hollywood ending:

    “My message to the LAPD?” Geragos said. “You’re supposed to protect and serve. You’re not supposed to take a politically correct stance.”

    LAPD referred questions about the case to the DA’s office.

    The District Attorney’s office said Vivian Diego was not charged due to insufficient evidence, but that if new evidence was presented they would “reconsider” the case.

    Prosecutors will be back in court Thursday to request a new trial date to retry Khachatarian’s friends for assault and battery.

    Attorney Gloria Allred represents Diego and agrees with the decision to pursue a new trial, telling NBC4 the defendants should stand trial for the “serious crime” committed against her client.

    “Perhaps the defense fears the jury's decision and that is why they are giving an interview now with their spin in a pathetic attempt to influence the jury pool,” Allred added in a statement.

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