Tracy Manzer, Long Beach Press Telegram, Dec. 19, 2006
Memories of the beating of three white women by a mob of black youths caused a good Samaritan to break down in tears several times on the witness stand Tuesday.
The 35-year-old father and husband described how he ran screaming at the crowd, waving his hands for them to stop and then used his body to shield one victim from further blows.
“I pulled her to my body, that’s all I could do for her,” he said, breaking into sobs. “That’s all I could do was move their hands . . . and pull her down.”
The man, whom the Press-Telegram has chosen not to identify out of security concerns, testified that at first it seemed as though the victims knew the crowd of black youths. Kids on both sides were laughing as things were thrown back and forth at the start of the incident, he said.
It all began about 9 p.m. on Halloween night as a crowd milled around in the 3800 block of Linden Avenue in Bixby Knolls. The victims said they had gone to see a haunted house when they were first insulted by a group of black males, then attacked by a larger group of boys and girls.
Ten local youths, nine girls and one boy age 12-18, were charged with felony assault. Three have turned 18 since the trial started.
A hate-crime enhancement was added to eight of the minors’ charges, stemming from accounts that they yelled racial slurs as they first pelted the victims with fruit and small pumpkins, then beat them to the ground using their fists, feet, a skateboard and tree branches.
The good Samaritan first testified on Monday, saying that someone in the crowd of black youths had thrown a newsletter at the three victims, and one of the victims — whom he said was wearing a red dress — stopped and picked up the newsletter and threw it back.
At times it was too dark to see what was going on, he testified Tuesday. At one point, the victims were beneath a large tree that blocked most of the light.
He described walking with his children, wife and a niece back to his car and turning to see the confrontation unfold.
People were running from all directions toward the confrontation, he said. Some were telling the youths to leave the victims alone while others egged them on, he said.
The mood of the once-laughing crowd turned more aggressive as the incident went on, he added.
“I had heard, ‘all right b — — , all right b — — , what it do,”’ he said. He could also hear someone saying “Stupid white b — — ,” he testified.
At one point, he said, he saw someone kick the back of one victim’s legs. He could not tell if the kick was delivered by a boy or a girl, he said, but the person was smaller than the other youths in the crowd.
The victim — who was wearing a red dress — then swung her arm backward, hitting someone in the crowd, he said and demonstrated for the court.
“(The victim) was taken by the hair and pulled,” he said, jerking his head to the side.
He described boys and girls attacking the three victims — two 19-year-olds and a 21-year-old.
The 19-year-old victim suffered a concussion and numerous contusions and bruises. She is now having problems with her eyesight, her mother said, as is the 21-year-old victim, who had more than a dozen bones in one side of her face shattered by kicks and punches to the head. Doctors have told her they will have to rebuild one side of her face with three metal plates.
Two of the victims were knocked to the ground, and one appeared to be knocked unconscious, the good Samaritan testified. The victim in the red dress was crouched low to the ground but still fought back, he said.
When it looked as though she was about to be completely overcome, he ran toward the melee.
“She was being kicked and I started running across the street,” he said. “I was screaming and I was running across the street.
“I couldn’t take no more.”
The man described pushing girls’ hands aside as they beat on the victim. Some of the youths continued to try to hit the victim even as he straddled her body to protect her, the good Samaritan said.
He yelled at the girls to stop, he said.
“I said . . . ‘There’s no f — — – way you guys should be doing this,”’ he recalled. “There’s just these girls, they’re going crazy,” he said. “People are yelling in the background . . . it was just messed up.”
‘It was just ugly’
He pushed the victim down to the ground, he said, so that he could wrap his own body around her and block the onslaught of blows.
“It was just ugly,” he said, his voice quavering. “I just heard a bunch of body shots . . . I was seeing people just attacking . . . all three girls.”
One girl in particular kept after the victim, he said.
He said he pushed that girl off, making her slip off a curb. He saw her grab something off the street as she stumbled, but didn’t know what it was.
She came at the victim and the good Samaritan from one side, he said, and tried to kick the victim but ended up kicking him in the back of the leg.
The good Samaritan recalled that girl having red hair and another girl yelling at him.
“What did she say?” Deputy District Attorney Andrea Bouas asked the man.
“She said, ‘F — – you n — — .”’
Several youths had already fled when he started to run over to stop the attack, he said. He could hear people screaming for the girls attacking the victim in the red dress to get into a car.
“I heard, ‘Hurry up, get inside the car, get inside the car,”’ he recounted. “That red car is where they got in.”
He said he saw three cars flee, one white and two red.
As one red car drove by, a girl leaned out the window and yelled, “f — – you b — — ,” before she was pulled back inside the car by another girl, he said.
He was able to see part of the rear license plate as the red car passed and later wrote it down on a plastic bag.
Police used that partial plate number, along with descriptions of the two red cars from witnesses, to stop the 10 minors currently on trial, or adjudication as it is called in juvenile court.
All but two defense attorneys objected to allowing that information into the courtroom, arguing that the DA’s use of the large, close-up photographs prejudiced the witness, essentially telling him who to identify.
Police reports given to the attorneys at the start of the trial show police investigators interviewed the good Samaritan on at least two occasions and he was unable to identify anyone, they pointed out.
Using the DA’s interview also puts the defense at a disadvantage, they argued, because they cannot cross-examine the prosecutor on the methods she used to gain the information — as they have done with police officers called to testify.
Bouas took more hits from the defense attorneys Tuesday. At one point, every question she asked and the statements made by her or the good Samaritan were met with an objection — often by more than one lawyer.
“We’re going to be here until June,” an exasperated Bouas said to another attorney.
Judge Lee agreed to bar the good Samaritan from testifying about any identifications on Monday and Tuesday, but explained Tuesday that he has not yet ruled on the matter.