Arrested Venice Skateboarder Ronald Weekley: Don't Be Angry, Fight for What's Right

A protest over the LAPD's use of force against a Venice man took place Wednesday afternoon

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Ronald Weekley, Jr. and his father were among a group of protesters who gathered in Venice to protest the 20-year-old Xavier University student's arrest, which was captured on cellphone video showing at least four officers on top of Weekley. LAPD officials are asking the public to reserve judgment until an internal investigation has "gathered all the information." Ted Chen reports from Venice for the NBC4 News at 5 p.m. on Aug. 22, 2012.

    Protesters rallied Wednesday afternoon in support of a Venice skateboarder whose arrest by police has galvanized criticism of the LAPD.

    Ronald Weekley Jr. was arrested Saturday outside his apartment building in a confrontation that was caught on cellphone video, making the case an instant Internet flashpoint.

    The video of Weekley's arrest showed four Los Angeles Police Department officers on top of the young man, with one appearing to punch him in the face.

    Arrested LA Skateboarder: "Cops Called Me a 'Dumb-A'"

    [LA] Arrested LA Skateboarder: "Cops Called Me a 'Dumb-A'"
    On medication for a broken nose and cheekbone, an emotional Ronald Weekley Jr. details his weekend arrest in Venice, which he says was overly rough. The 20-year-old Xavier University student has hired the lawyer representing Trayvon Martin, the slain Florida teen whose shooting sparked nationwide outrage over racial profiling and the state's controversial "Stand Your Ground Law." Ted Chen reports from Venice for the NBC4 News at 5 p.m. on August 21, 2012.

    "You could hear the licks. They were horrible," witness Ernestine Anderson said at a press conference Tuesday. "I thought they were going to kill him."

    A 20-year-old student at Xavier University in New Orleans who was home for summer, Weekley said he did not know officers were calling to him as he skateboarded on the wrong side of the street.

    He has said he was punched four times during the arrest outside his home, resulting in a broken nose and cheekbone.

    At Wednesday's rally, where protesters chanted "peace from the police," Weekley urged calm and forgiveness.

    "For everybody who's angry about what happened, don't be angry about what happened -- just fight for what's right," Weekley said.

    While video of the arrest has generated criticism of Los Angeles police, law enforcement officials are asking the public to withhold judgment until all the facts are out. Authorities said they had launched an internal investigation into the arrest.

    Police said Weekley was being charged with resisting arrest with force. They also found he had three unrelated outstanding misdemeanor warrants.

    Weekley was stopped by the officers with the LAPD's Violent Crime Task Force, which patrols target problem areas. The approximately 20 officers that make up the task force are chosen specifically because they do not have complaints against them, police said.

    "Most weekends during the summer they’re here at Venice Beach because of crowds and because of the burglary of motor vehicle problems and some narcotics problems that we have in the area," LAPD Cmdr. Andrew Smith said.

    On Wednesday afternoon, the Los Angeles Police Protective League, the officers' union, released a statement about the incident titled "Police work is not always pretty."

    "We already know that the partial videotape does not tell the whole story. If, as appears in this case, the recording begins toward the end of the incident, then crucial context which explains the necessity of the use of force is not captured," the statement read in part.

    "The reasonableness of a particular use of force must be judged from the perspective of a reasonable officer on the scene, rather than with the 20/20 vision of hindsight," it also stated.

    A spokesman for the Los Angeles City Attorney's Office on Wednesday said police have not submitted a report in Weekley's case, which would be needed for criminal charges to be filed against him in court.

    At a press conference Tuesday, Weekley appeared emotional when describing the arrest.

    "I was opening the door to my apartment when I was attacked from behind," Weekley said.

    "I started screaming and yelling because I thought I was going to die. I needed someone to see what was going on," he added.

    Weekley also said he was taunted after being handcuffed.

    "Next thing I remember was being in the back of the car, asking, 'Why me? … Why did I get stopped?' And the officer said because I was a 'dumb-a' and didn't stop at the stop sign," Weekley said, tearing up.

    He is being represented by Benjamin Crump, the attorney who hired to speak for the family of slain Florida teen Trayvon Martin.

    The family plans to file a lawsuit against the Los Angeles Police Department.

    Crump questioned whether Weekley, who is African American, was a victim of racial profiling. He called for an investigation of the officers involved in the arrest, and for all charges against Weekley to be dropped.

    "Was he stopped because he was on the wrong side of the road, or was he attacked because was the wrong color?" Crump said at Tuesday's press conference.

    "How many times did this happen when there are no cell phone recordings?" Crump added.

    At the Tuesday press conference, supporters of Weekley announced the rally, which was planned for 4 p.m. Wednesday at 6th and Sunset avenues in Venice, feet from Saturday's arrest (map).

    The protest was being organized in part by activist Najee Ali, director of Project Islamic HOPE.

    "This young man who is also a college student was racially profiled and beat by the LAPD as several eyewitnesses videotaped the beating. We want all charges against Weekly dropped by L.A. District Attorney Steve Cooley," Ali said in a release outlining Wednesday's rally.

    NBC4's Ted Chen contributed to this report.

    NOTE: An earlier version of this article stated the incorrect rank for police Cmdr. Andrew Smith. His title has been corrected.

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