City Attorney Denies Report Charges Dropped Against USC Students

Students were arrested in a clash with officers during a loud party call on May 4

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    Charges were dropped against six USC students arrested in a confrontation with police at an off-campus party hosted by black students. Annette Arreola reports for the NBC4 News at Noon on Thursday, May 30, 2013. (Published Thursday, May 30, 2013)

    Contrary to reports from a defense attorney, charges have not been dropped against six USC students arrested in a confrontation with police outside an off-campus party in an incident posted on YouTube, the LA City Attorney's Office said Thursday.

    An attorney for the students, Fred Dorton, had said earlier Thursday that charges were dropped. He spoke during a rally with some 30 students and others outside the downtown LA courthouse where the six students were facing arraignment for charges related to failing to disperse.

    Christian Sutton, one of the students arrested in the case, said he was fearful.

    “I had never seen police act that way,” he said. “I had never been in that position myself."

    USC-LAPD Clash on the Table at Campus Open Forum

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    There is plenty of anger on the USC campus following Saturday morning's incident at a student party. On Tuesday, students and police will join at an open forum to discuss accusations of racial profiling at the university. Lolita Lopez reports from USC for the NBC4 News at 5 p.m. on May 7, 2013. (Published Tuesday, May 7, 2013)

    Just before 5 p.m., the office of Los Angeles City Attorney Carmen Trutanich issued a statement that read in part:

    "Fred Dorton who represents the six USC students spoke to news agencies this afternoon and conveyed the impression that the case against his clients had been dropped. This is not true.

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    Students and police officers met Tuesday night at USC for a forum planned before last weekend’s party in which students accused the officers of racially profiling and degrading them. Beverly White reports from USC for the NBC4 News at 11 p.m. on May 7, 2013. (Published Wednesday, May 8, 2013)

    "No decision has been made on filing the case. The City Attorney’s Office is gathering evidence and the case remains under review."

    Sandy Cooney, a senior media advisor in the City Attorney's Office, told NBC4 on Thursday afternoon that the office had received the case from the Los Angeles Police Department only two days before and needed to do more work before determining whether to file charges.

    The students' arraignment hearing was postponed Thursday because charges had not yet been filed, Cooney said.

    The students were arrested May 4 when 79 LAPD officers -- some in riot gear -- responded to a noise complaint for a party in the University Park Campus neighborhood hosted by black students.

    Supporters said police used excessive force and “selective enforcement” because officers did not arrest anyone at a party hosted by white students that was held across the street the same night although they did break up that party.

    "I saw my brothers and sisters and the Trojan family treated like criminals,” said Sarah Tither-Kaplan, a music industry major who said she attended the predominantly Caucasian party across the street. “They were herded like animals. They were degraded, humiliated, and insulted and called names."

    Police said some in the crowd threw objects at officers and one officer suffered an injury while making an arrest.

    Dorton called for criminal charges to be filed against officers he claims used excessive force, including one officer who he said tackled a student who was arrested on felony charges that were later dropped.

    In response to the City Attorney’s Office statement that charges had not been dropped, Dorton on Thursday evening said he had only said the six had not been charged, not specifically that charges were dropped.

    However, in an on-camera interview with NBC4 earlier Friday, Dorton had said: "I'm proud to say that today, thankfully, all the charges were dropped against the students so there will be no filings of criminal charges moving forward."

    Calling his clients "top schoolars," Dorton had added, "I’m glad that the City Attorney’s Office, the District Attorney’s Office,the LAPD has done the right thing in dismissing these charges against these individuals."

    NBC4's Melissa Pamer and Lolita Lopez contributed to this article.

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