Bad Blood at the Beach
Jury Rules Against Longtime Venice Local in LAPD Suit
May 22, 2010
--Evidently, it's legal for a police officer to sucker punch then pepper spray ***a surfer in trunks.
That's the upshot of a Federal Court Jury's decision that ruled the Los Angeles Police Department did not use excessive force when it arrested long time Venice local Greg Falk. Falk was placed into custody for surfing in unauthorized area. (Be careful where you paddle, bro.) He went onto sue the LAPD over the actions of its officers during the course of his arrest, alleging excessive force and civil rights violations. Law enforcement countered that the punch, was simply a "distraction strike". (See if that terminology flies next time you get hauled away for sparking a bar fight.)
Speaking of which, City Attorney Carmen Trutanich--who likes to convey himself as a brawler--released a press release after the jury's ruling boasting of how the ruling against Falk had saved taxpayers $750,000 (the damages Falk sought.) Not mentioned, however, was the cost to ordinary Los Angelenos civil rights. Sure--call us biased for pointing that out.
According to Falk, immediately prior to punching him one of the two officer yelled "resisting arrest." But such a charge was never leveled against the surfer. Falk's suit was originally reported by VenicePaper December 1, 2006.
Falk's suit maintained that he he remained "verbally polite." At one point the surfer says he asked officers "Why are you doing this."
If you want to see another, image of Falk, drive by Oakwood Park and check out the silhouettes of local kids playing, which decorate the chain link fence and project images of hope for area children.
**this story has been updated. While witnesses said that Falk was handcuffed at the time officers peppersprayed him, in court an enhanced video was used to show that the he was not.