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LAPD detective injured when murder defendant throws chair in court

An L.A. police detective was hit in the head and upper body Wednesday when a defendant in a murder case threw a chair in court, also clipping a prosecutor.

The female detective was struck during a 10:30 a.m. hearing when the defendant, identified as Jesus Mendez, grabbed a chair and tossed it about 15 feet, authorities said.

The chair struck the detective and grazed a deputy district attorney prosecuting the case, police said.

The judge, the prosecutor, the defense attorney and the investigating officer were present at the time.

The attack unfolded in Department 134 in the downtown criminal courts. It was unclear how Mendez was able to get free and grab the chair.

The blow knocked down the detective, whose name was not released. She was treated at Los Angeles County + USC Medical Center, according to Los Angeles Police Cmdr. Andrew Smith.

HOMICIDE REPORT: A story for every victim

Smith said the detective is currently assigned to the Force Investigation Division, but the murder case stemmed from her time as a detective in South Los Angeles' 77th Street police station.

Mendez was arrested June 28, 2012, in the murder of Jamie Sharif Mohammad Abuawad during the commission of a robbery. Abuawad was killed April 19, 2012.

Mendez was being held without bail, and there was an immigration hold on his detention in the county jail.

Abuawad, 27, was fatally shot in the 800 block of West 81st Street in Vermont Knolls, according to Los Angeles County coroner's records. The shooting occurred at 11:45 a.m., and he was taken to a hospital where he died from his injuries at 12:17 p.m.

[For the Record, 4:55 p.m. PST, Jan. 29: A previous version of this post incorrectly stated it was a potential death penalty case, but it is not.]

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richard.winton@latimes.com

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