Joseph Lagano shifted in his seat. He asked to take a minute. His voice became shaky.
Then he answered the question: What did he see that night in the Dodger Stadium parking lot?
“I saw a guy fall -- the back of his head, stiff as a board -- his head on the pavement, and lie motionless,” Lagano, 46, said on the witness stand. “That was Bryan Stow.”
Lagano and his family testified Wednesday in the civil trial that alleges the Los Angeles Dodgers and former owner Frank McCourt were negligent in not providing adequate security and lighting on March 31, 2011.
It was opening day and the Dodgers had beaten their longtime rival the San Francisco Giants 2 to 1. Lagano had left the stadium with his wife and daughter and was standing in parking lot 2.
He said he heard a commotion and turned to see a handful of people fleeing. Then came the sound of a man being punched.
Lagano said he then saw Louie Sanchez kick Giants fan Stow in the head -- a detail that made jurors sit up and scribble in their notebooks. Sanchez and Marvin Norwood later pleaded guilty to the attack.
Lagano’s wife, Mary Donley, grew emotional when she testified about what happened next. The 44-year-old said her husband intervened although she had pleaded for him to stay back.
“Did you want security then?” Stow’s attorney asked.
“Yes,” Donley said, wiping away tears.
“And was there any?”
Sanchez and Norwood fled the scene shortly after Lagano yelled at them.
Under cross-examination, Donley and her husband acknowledged that there may have been security in the area that they hadn't noticed.
The 911 call was made by their daughter, Natasha Lagano, 22. “Someone just got knocked out and he’s just lying cold on the floor,” she told the operator, according to a transcript read aloud in court.
All three family members said it took about 15 minutes for security to show up afterward.
Stow’s parents and sister had difficulty listening to the emotional testimony as they sat in the downtown Los Angeles courtroom.
“It’s like a sore, and then when you see somebody react the way they do, it just opens that sore back up,” explained Stow’s mother, Ann, afterward. “It’s like it happened yesterday.”
An assistant security manager for the Dodgers who testified earlier in the day acknowledged that there were no security personnel or ushers specifically assigned to the section where Sanchez was witnessed intimidating fans during the game.
But Kenneth Delgadillo also said Section 149 was an overlap area for at least two other security guards who could easily survey the sector. The Dodgers also relied on law enforcement officers who were not assigned to sections but were free to roam and respond to calls for assistance.
Plaintiffs’ attorneys have attempted to prove that the Dodgers failed to address Sanchez’s aggression long before Stow’s attack. Four witnesses have testified that Sanchez was shouting profanities and throwing peanuts at a young couple wearing Giants gear. He also appeared drunk and sprayed soda on the couple, they said.
Sanchez's sister, Dorene, was the lone witness to testify that there was an usher in their section.
According to the Dodgers security and guest services training manual, starting with the fifth inning, security personnel are required to walk down the aisles and face the guests at the top of each inning “in order to establish visibility and an enhanced level of public safety.”
Ushers are required to walk down the aisles and face guests at the end of each inning.
Delgadillo said he could only assume that an usher walked the aisles of Section 149, but could not be sure. Ushers' duties, he said, include looking for fans disrupting the game.
Delgadillo said that dealing with unruly fans and tending to complaints and problems could force personnel to miss other incidents. “During a game, it’s a fluid situation,” he testified.Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times