Los Angeles

Accused Surf Gang Member to Stand Trial in Dodger Stadium Attack

The 28-year-old was an alleged member of a notorious South Bay surfing gang.

A Palos Verdes Estates resident accused of knocking a man unconscious in a Dodger Stadium parking lot after a game last October was ordered Monday to stand trial on a charge of assault by means likely to produce great bodily injury.

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Michael E. Pastor found sufficient evidence to hold Michael Rae Papayans, a 28-year-old alleged member of a notorious South Bay surfing gang, to answer to the felony charge.

Papayans is accused of punching 50-year-old Ariel David Auffant in the head after the Oct. 9 Dodgers-Mets game. As Auffant fell to the ground, he struck his head on the pavement, causing him to sustain serious head injuries that prosecutors said resulted in memory, hearing and visual impairment.

Papayans' mother allegedly kicked Auffant in the back while he was on the ground. The District Attorney's Office referred a potential case against her to the Los Angeles City Attorney's Office to determine if a misdemeanor case should be filed.

A spokesman for the City Attorney's Office said Monday that city prosecutors are still reviewing the potential case against the woman, whose name was not disclosed.

She allegedly yelled epithets at a group of four people — one of whom was wearing Mets attire — as they headed to their car in Lot L after the game, in which the Mets defeated the Dodgers 3-1.

Her son allegedly joined in the verbal dispute with the group before punching Auffant, who was not in Mets attire, according to the District Attorney's Office.

Papayans' grandmother, who was not present, claimed her grandson was protecting his mother from four men, who then attacked him.

"They started by attacking my daughter and pushed her down because they didn't like what she was saying," Sheila Papayans said.

Papayans was arrested Feb. 11 by the Los Angeles Police Department's Robbery-Homicide Division, then released the next day on a $30,000 bond.

The arrest came about a month after Papayans was arrested alongside former Backstreet Boys singer Nick Carter following a Key West bar brawl.

Carter struck a plea deal for community service, however Papayans is still awaiting trial on a misdemeanor battery charge, according to online court records.

Papayans in also named in a federal class action suit seeking a gang injunction against a territorial group of surfers identified as the Lunada Bay Boys.

The surfers — whose stone "fort" in Palos Verdes Estates is set to be torn down by city officials responding to the California Coastal Commission — allegedly threaten, intimidate and assault those they view as outsiders.

Papayans is due back in a downtown Los Angeles courtroom Aug. 15 for arraignment on the charge stemming from the stadium attack, for which he could face up to seven years in prison if convicted.

The attack was reminiscent of the March 31, 2011, assault on San Francisco Giants fan Bryan Stow in a parking lot at Dodger Stadium. Stow was involved in a postgame confrontation in the parking lot and fell to the ground, cracking his skull on the pavement.

The former paramedic and father of two eventually regained consciousness, but suffered permanent brain damage.

Two men pleaded guilty to attacking Stow and were sentenced to state prison in a case handled by Deputy District Attorney Michele Hanisee, who is also assigned to the Papayans case.

The Stow attack led to questions about the adequacy of security at Dodger Stadium. He sued the team and was awarded $18 million.

Copyright CNS - City News Service
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