Youths Attack Officer in West Covina

Times Staff Writer

A West Covina police officer was attacked early Friday by four or five youths after an attempt to question one of the young men, whom the officer described as a "punk-rock skinhead."

The officer, Mike Newton, 25, ended up at the bottom of a 20-foot ravine and was found in a dazed condition by a fellow officer, according to police. He was treated for a minor head injury and released from a local hospital after the 2 a.m. Friday attack. He was reported to be resting comfortably at home Friday.

Newton is a world-class wrestler who has won the gold medal for heavyweight arm-wrestling at the California Police Olympics for the last four years, a West Covina police spokesman said.

"But he was jumped by four guys," West Covina Police Lt. George Sicuranzo said. "How are you going to defend yourself against four guys? If you have a chance to draw your firearm, you draw it. Put yourself in his shoes."

Newton was not available for comment.

As of Friday evening, there were no arrests, Sicuranzo said.

According to West Covina Police Lt. Dan Leonard, Newton was patroling a hilly suburban neighborhood about 20 miles east of downtown Los Angeles when he observed a man in his 20s walking along a bike path behind a row of homes. Newton, Leonard said, described the man as a "punk-rock skinhead."

"He (the young man) had his hair shaven, if not all of it, then down to a stubble," Leonard said. "He was last seen wearing blue jeans cut off at the calf. He appeared to be out of place for the area and dirty."

It was not clear if the individual was a neo-Nazi skinhead. That group espouses white supremacy and is thought to have been responsible for several instances of synagogue desecrations in the San Fernando Valley last year. Members of the racist group frequently have shaved heads, wear combat boots and have swastika emblems on their clothing.

Not all individuals with the skinhead look are members of racist or violent gangs. Many punk-rock music fans dress in similar fashion.

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