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USC students' case remains 'under review,' officials say

USC students' case remains 'under review,' officials say
Nate Howard, a senior and communications major, makes a statement to a group of USC protesters about the controversial breakup of a party by LAPD officers. (Don Bartletti / Los Angeles Times)

The Los Angeles city attorney's office said Thursday that it had not dropped charges against six USC students arrested during an off-campus party, contesting statements made earlier by an attorney for the students.

"No decision has been made on filing the case," officials said in a statement. "The city attorney's office is gathering evidence and the case remains under review."

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The statement came shortly after attorney Fred Dorton "conveyed the impression that the case against his clients had been dropped," the city attorney's office said. Specifically, he told The Times that the USC students were "elated and happy … because they have these criminal charges behind them."

Later Thursday, Dorton sought to clarify his language, saying that the city attorney had never filed formal charges.

"Today was the arraignment, the city attorney did not file a formal misdemeanor complaint against the students -- and I don't anticipate them filing," he said.

Students contend Los Angeles Police Department officers showed racial bias and used heavy-handed tactics when they shut down a party attended by mostly African American students earlier this month.

Police said they were responding to a noise complaint and the situation escalated when a partygoer threw a bottle. Students denied throwing anything.

The incident garnered media attention after partygoers posted videos and photos of dozens of police officers donning riot gear and escorting students out of a house party.

LAPD officials have opened an internal investigation into the incident, and the inspector general's office said earlier this month that it is evaluating all formal complaints.

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