What to Know
- The man seen punching two women in cellphone video says he was defending himself.
- "The last thing I want is to get involved in an altercation," said Arka Oroojian, 30. "But they kept attacking me."
- The incident occurred early Saturday on a downtown Los Angeles sidewalk outside a disco and bar on Spring Street.
The saga of the viral video of the man punching two women took another twist Thursday when the man asserted the women had attacked him before the beginning of the recording.
"The last thing I want is to get involved in an altercation," said Arka Oroojian, 30. "But they kept attacking me."
Oroojian rejected the account provided by one of the women that he attacked them as "a complete lie."
The incident occurred early Saturday on a downtown Los Angeles sidewalk outside a disco and bar on Spring Street. The 14 second cellphone camera recording showed the man punching and pushing two women to the ground, then their rising up to confront him again, only to have him knock them down again and then run off.
Bystanders could be heard hooting and hollering, but none tried to intercede. The posting of the video on social media triggered a firestorm of debate and second-guessing the actions of all the parties.
"I feel social media is crucifying me right now," Oroojian told NBC4, contending the video shows only "half of the story."
During an interview with NBC4 Monday, the woman seen in the dark jacket, who spoke on condition of not being named, said the man began hitting her and her friend after they chided him for being rude to a mobile hot dog vendor.
Tuesday night, Oroojian surrendered to police and was booked on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon, his fists. On Wednesday, he was released on bail of $90,000. The LA County District Attorney's Office has yet to make a decision on filing criminal charges.
Speaking to NBC4 Thursday with his attorneys present, Oroojian insisted he did nothing more than defend himself, and left the scene to de-escalate the situation.
"He made the decision to retreat and de-escalate," said attorney Kurt Zimmerman.
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Oroojian had gone downtown to a visit a friend who has a hookah catering business, he said, and was about to head home when he spotted the sidewalk vendor and decided to get a hot dog.
He acknowledged having a verbal dispute with the vendor, when from the line behind of waiting customers he heard the voices of women "cussing me out."
When he the turned around, one woman spit on him, and the other hit him, and he lost his balance and went down, he said.
The woman in the black jacket acknowledged the man was on the ground at one point, but said she did not remember how that happened.
The women kicked him when he was on the ground, and continued to try to hit him after he got up, and that is when he "started defending myself," Oroojian said.
"What he's trying to do is get these women away," said another Oroojian attorney Christopher Reyes, who noted his client has no criminal history.
That Oroojian is 6 foot 3 and 270 pounds and much larger than the young women, does not deprive him of the right to protect himself, Reyes said.
"Does that mean he should just stand there and just take it because he's a big guy?"
The woman in the dark jacket, seen on the video approaching Oroojian with arms outstretched, said she was struck even though she was only telling him not to hit her friend.
Asked why he continued to engage the woman after getting back on his feet, Oroojian said, "once I had a little momentum, I retreated."
He was also asked if he was satisfied with how he handled the incident. Before Oroojian replied, attorney Reyes said Oroojian feels the "situation was unfortunate," but acted only to stop it, and had no intention of hurting anyone.
The woman in the dark jacket, a nursing student, had a bruise on her right jawline Monday, and spoke of pain in her arm.
In a text message Tuesday to NBC4 Tuesday, the other woman said she had a finger broken, and both had suffered concussions.
The women did not respond to requests for comment on Oroojian's assertion that they attacked him.
Oroojian said his principal occupation is ultrasound heart technician.
He previously has worked security, and four years ago recorded a music video. He said he is taking time off work to deal with the situation.