Continuing the SoFi Stadium altercation can be difficult


Authorities in Inglewood this week scrambled to piece together a timeline of the violent altercation in the parking lot outside SoFi Stadium that left a San Francisco 49ers fan in a medically induced coma days before the city was set to host the Super Bowl.

Inglewood Mayor James T. Butts announced Friday that Bryan Alexis Cifuentes-Rossell, 33, of Los Angeles, has been arrested on suspicion of felony assault in connection with the incident.

Injured fan Daniel Luna, 40, was hospitalized after he was found bleeding in a stadium parking lot about half an hour after the Rams-49ers NFC Championship showdown on Sunday, authorities said.

The incident drew immediate and widespread comparisons to the brutal beating of San Francisco Giants fan Bryan Stow at Dodger Stadium in 2011.

Bryan Alexis Cifuentes-Rossell has been arrested on suspicion of felony assault.

(Inglewood Police Department)

But authorities and legal experts say what happened at SoFi is different and in some ways more complicated than this case, with Butts indicating Friday that Luna may have been the assailant.

So far, the minutes leading up to the altercation are murky and no video has been made public.

According to Butts, investigators have reviewed footage that appears to show Luna first pushing Cifuentes-Rossell from behind. Cifuentes-Rossell then responded by pushing and punching Luna in the face causing him to fall and hit his head.

“The reality is that it was a… two-shot, one-shot altercation,” Butts said at a news conference Friday. “The biggest damage was done because he landed the back of his head on the pavement.”

The Times asked several experts to comment on how the high-profile incident might unfold.

Louis Shapiro, a prominent Los Angeles defense attorney, said Cifuentes-Rossell’s attorney will likely start by getting “a clear forensic video that shows everything that happened and will ask everyone about it. that was said before the punch”.

According to Butts, footage reviewed by investigators shows people mingling in the parking lot when Luna pushes the other man, who was wearing a yellow jersey believed to be a Rams jersey, from behind.

Luna wore a white jersey “which some think is a retro 49ers jersey,” Butts said. Friends have confirmed that Luna is a 49ers fan.

The other man then pushed Luna and punched him in the face, Butts said. Luna fell to the ground and hit her head.

Shapiro said he was concerned that the mayor was “saying on a prominent platform that the defendant assaulted the victim,” but noted that many factors could influence the case, including the rate of Luna’s blood alcohol level, Cifuentes-Rossell’s actions after the punch and whether any verbal threats were made between the men.

Still, Cifuentes-Rossell’s attorneys are likely to argue that “the serious outcome here was not a one-shot predictable event,” he said.

His biggest problem might be his actions afterwards.

“The problem is he fled the scene afterwards. If he had stayed and gotten help for the guy, it wouldn’t be as much of a problem,” Shapiro said.

According to Butts, police traced Cifuentes-Rossell’s address from the license plate of a car captured on surveillance video inside the stadium grounds. The police left his contact details at his home.

Cifuentes-Rossell then contacted police but refused to come to the department for questioning, Butts said. Officers then proceeded to his workplace in Montebello, and he “voluntarily accompanied them to the Inglewood Police Department” and was taken into custody.

Luna, who was taken to Harbor-UCLA Medical Center on Sunday after being found bleeding in the stadium parking lot, remains in a coma. If he died, Shapiro said, the case would likely become a voluntary homicide case.

Butts didn’t say whether Luna would also face charges for the altercation, noting that “it would depend on the district attorney’s office.”

“They will look at all of the circumstances and make their decision,” he said, adding that it was not apparent from the video footage that anyone else was involved in the altercation.

Greg Risling, a spokesman for the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office, said Friday that no charges have been filed and did not respond to questions about whether Luna could also face charges.

Butts said Cifuentes-Rossell’s arrest was related to “assault by a means to produce grievous bodily harm.” According to the California penal code, such a conviction can result in several years of imprisonment, a fine or both.

Cifuentes-Rossell was released in lieu of $30,000 bond at 1 a.m. Friday, Butts said. It was not immediately clear whether he had obtained legal representation, and attempts to reach him on Friday were unsuccessful.

Lara Yeretsian, a criminal defense attorney who has represented high-profile clients including convicted killer Scott Peterson, said she believes Luna was technically the attacker, and that the force Cifuentes-Rossell used “n is not disproportionate”.

“As horrible as it sounds, a good lawyer will say it was a fluke,” she said. “As a defense attorney, I’d say he wasn’t overdoing it by throwing a punch. Law enforcement often decides whoever has the most injuries is the victim, and that is not the law.

SoFi itself is also under scrutiny. Two law enforcement sources with knowledge of the stadium said parts of the grounds were not fully covered by cameras. Most security is concentrated inside and immediately around the stadium, and parking lots are left to people directing traffic, they said.

These sources said the stadium was encouraged to bring in more Los Angeles County Sheriff’s deputies to bolster security after internal concerns arose that there was not enough law enforcement. for the often drunk and angry fan police. LA County Sheriff Alex Villanueva said last week he had assigned 380 people to the Super Bowl.

David Lira, a member of the legal team who represented Stow after the 2011 beating at Dodger Stadium, said rivalry games often draw fans in with intense pride and high emotion, and that it’s essential stadiums have robust security plans in place.

“They knew a rival team was coming to town,” Lira said. “They should have adjusted their security plan for this particular game. This is a real recipe for disaster unless you have the proper protocols in place.

Even inside the stadium, videos appeared in recent months showing fights between fans.

Former federal prosecutor Neama Rahmani said the incident in SoFi had echoes of what happened to Stow at Dodger Stadium.

In that case, Louie Sanchez pleaded guilty to one count of mutilation and was sentenced to eight years in prison. Marvin Norwood pleaded guilty to assault likely to cause grievous bodily harm and was sentenced to four years behind bars.

But prosecutors in the case had evidence the two men delivered multiple blows to Stow, including “kicking” Stow to the head that resulted in brain damage, Rahmani said.

“The prosecutors [in the SoFi incident] are very limited here in what they can allege, and they expect to face a defense built around self-defense and that it was not the defendant’s intention to cause grievous bodily harm” , Rahmani said.

Butts said it was inaccurate to compare the SoFi incident to what happened to Stow.

“The situation at Dodger Stadium is nowhere like this,” he said, “and to be honest, it felt like a little altercation gone horribly wrong…. It wasn’t like if people gang up on someone and beat them up.

The mayor also said a security guard called paramedics shortly after the altercation. He said he wasn’t concerned about security at SoFi Stadium.

“I’m very comfortable that there was sufficient security,” Butts said. “You’re not going to stop all the altercations and arguments that happen between the fans. It’s just not going to happen.




Los Angeles Times

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