Burbank Bar Employees, 6 Off-Duty Policemen Brawl

Times Staff Writer

Authorities said Thursday that they are investigating a bar brawl that erupted between six off-duty Los Angeles police officers, five employees and a customer at a Burbank restaurant.

Four Burbank police cars responded to a major disturbance call shortly before midnight Wednesday in the bar at the Black Angus restaurant at 235 S. 1st St., Police Sgt. Don Goldberg said.

The officers found that six off-duty Los Angeles officers had scuffled with a bartender, two cocktail waitresses, two bouncers and at least one customer after one of the officers accused the customer of knocking over a bottle of beer, authorities and witnesses said.


Several people involved in the brawl, including at least one officer, suffered minor injuries. No arrests were made, although the incident is being investigated by Burbank police and has been referred to the Los Angeles Police Department for an internal investigation, Goldberg said.

Because no arrests were made, Burbank police declined to name the officers, who are assigned to the Wilshire Division, and the other people involved.

“It was a major disturbance,” Goldberg said. “Apparently everybody had been drinking. We have several versions of what happened. In essence it became a brawl.”

Black Angus bartender Ronnie Ortiz said the officers were sitting at the bar drinking beer about 11:15 p.m. when they became involved in a shouting match with a customer whom one of the officers accused of knocking a bottle of beer to the floor.

“They were very loud and obnoxious,” said Ortiz, who added that he did not know they were police officers until after the fight broke out.

Ortiz said two waitresses moved between the officers and the man with whom they were arguing. He said the officers pushed them out of the way, knocking one to the ground and the other against the bar.


“They threw me onto the floor,” said Norene Youngblood, one of the waitresses. “Then one twisted my arm up behind my back. It turned into quite a ruckus. Customers were scattering all over the place.”

Put Into Chokehold

Ortiz said he jumped over the bar to try to protect the waitresses but was grabbed by the officers and put into a chokehold. Ortiz and Youngblood said two bar bouncers joined the fracas, which finally ended when the officers dragged the man accused of spilling the beer out a side door and handcuffed him face down in the parking lot. Ortiz said he saw the officers striking the man while he was on the ground.

After Burbank police arrived, the handcuffed man was treated by paramedics and released.

“Our officers determined there was insufficient evidence to hold him, coupled with the fact that he needed medical attention,” Goldberg said.

Cmdr. William Booth, Los Angeles Police Department spokesman, said the incident is being investigated by the department’s internal affairs unit.

“We will make a determination about propriety or impropriety of our officers’ actions,” he said.