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How a savage ballpark beating improved the LAPD's image

The brutal beating of a Giants fan at Dodger Stadium on Opening Day shook the entire city and led to a wave of cooperation with the LAPD – and renewed appreciation for its hard work.

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“It’s a perception thing, safety and a quality of life issue really. Just a huge weight has lifted off,” says Melissa Travers at a coffee shop here. “I don’t know if this is their man or not, but just the way the police have handled this has reassured me,”says the retail clerk.

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“This is a moment for the LAPD to really celebrate,” says Mary Powers, president of the National Coalition for Police Accountability. She notes that the LAPD’s reputation has suffered deeply over the past two decades from incidents ranging from the Rodney King beating, to the O.J. Simpson murder trial, to a scandal involving hundreds of officers accused of planting evidence.

Good news for a police force with a troubled past

“When you’ve had a history like this department has, you welcome good news like the work they’ve done on this case,” she says. “They deserve a lot of praise for this.”

Ramirez was taken into custody without incident and arrested on suspicion that he was one of two men who attacked Stow from behind, in the parking lot of Dodger Stadium on March 31 following the season opener between the rival teams. Stow, 42, suffered brain damage in the attack and remains hospitalized. Of the two people being sought, one is thought to be the driver of the assailants’ vehicle.

Ramirez was booked on a charge of assault with a deadly weapon and is being held on $1 million bail. Because he is accused of kicking Stow while he was unconscious on the ground, police consider Ramirez's foot a deadly weapon.

Ramirez attorney, Anthony Brooklier, told a local radio station that the witnesses who identified Ramirez are wrong because his client was not at the game. He says members of Ramirez’ family will testify to this in court.

Local observers say the incident at first damaged public confidence but now has turned that around.

“Symbolically, this case is very important for baseball, the Dodgers, and the LAPD,” says Robert Stern, president of the Center for Governmental Studies.

“Fans are not turning out in many stadiums, but particularly Dodger Stadium; the attack is not the only reason for the drop in attendance, but it has contributed to fewer fans. It is also a very important case for the LAPD, since it was such a high profile event. The case had dragged on for weeks without any arrests and people and fans were concerned that the attackers would never be found.”

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