‘L.A. Law’ Star Smits Arrested in Alleged Attack on 3 Officers

Times Staff Writer

Jimmy Smits, the Emmy Award nominee for best supporting actor for his portrayal of Victor Sifuentes on NBC-TV’s popular “L.A. Law,” was arrested early Monday after he allegedly attacked three police officers at his West Los Angeles home, officials said.

Smits, 32, who received this year’s Imagen Award for helping create a positive image of Hispanics, and his girlfriend, Juanita Cruz, 28, were booked for battery on police officers, according to Detective Richard DeAnda of the Los Angeles Police Department. They were released after posting $1,000 bail each.

Smits and the three officers were treated for cuts and bruises at Santa Monica Medical Center.

The scuffle allegedly began soon after police responded to reports of a woman screaming for help at Smits’ South Bundy Drive home about 11:30 p.m. Sunday.

When the officers began to question Cruz, she allegedly launched an attack on them and was soon joined by Smits, DeAnda said. It was unclear whether Smits suffered his injuries, including several cuts and bruises on the head and face, from the altercation with police or from an earlier bout with Cruz, DeAnda said.


DeAnda said Smits could face misdemeanor charges or more serious felony counts of battery on a police officer. Charges are expected to be filed Thursday, DeAnda said.

Neither Smits nor Cruz could be reached Tuesday for comment.

John West, a spokesman for Smits, said, “Neither Mr. Smits nor his girlfriend have attacked a police officer. When all of the facts regarding this matter are brought to light, their innocence will be clearly established.” West said Smits will be on the set of “L.A. Law” today as scheduled.

Production Under Way

“L.A. Law,” which has been nominated for 20 Emmys, began production on its second season three weeks ago and will continue filming through March, according to NBC spokesman Brian Robinette.

Robinette said he does not expect Smits’ arrest, or his injuries, to affect production. “There are seven to eight shooting days per episode, so we can often work around these types of problems,” Robinette said.

In addition to his role on the television series, Smits plays a police officer who falls into the hands of an evil cult in this summer’s feature film, “The Believers.” He was featured as a drug dealer last year in “Running Scared.”

Smits was the lone recipient of this year’s Imagen award, presented each June by the Hispanic Media-Image Task Force. Since 1985, the group has traditionally honored three entertainers each year for portraying positive Hispanic roles in films or on television. This year, the task force decided that there was a lack of suitable roles on television, and there were no entries in the film category.