A former Dodgers security guard testified Monday that the security team was short-staffed the night San Francisco Giants fan Bryan Stow was attacked and that he feared for his own safety.
Although attorneys for the Dodgers have made repeated references to March 31, 2011, marking the then-largest security force in the history of opening day, the latest testimony in the ongoing civil trial underlined Stow’s negligence accusation of inadequate security.
Jerome Heavens said he was told in a pre-game meeting that day that only 150 of the usual 300 security guards had shown up. Because of low numbers, supervisors told them not to break up fights alone, but to report them and wait for backup.
But that advice was difficult to heed, Heavens said, and he found himself forced to respond immediately to a hostile crowd where fans threw food, cursed and harassed elderly patrons. Assigned to Sections 28 and 30 in the reserve level, Heavens said he was injured while responding to four or five fights. He also noted that people were drinking heavily, returning from the concession stands holding a cup of beer between their teeth with three or four more dangling from the fingertips of each hand.
“To put it blunt, it was crazy, it was crazy from what I saw,” testified Heavens, who left the job after about one month. “And I knew early on that I didn’t want to continue because of the fact that everything was out of order.”
By the end of the day, he said, he knew he wanted to quit.
“I felt that I wasn’t safe,” he testified. “This is the first security job that I had worked where there really wasn’t any order to how things should be done as far as my safety, the protection of fans.”
The alleged flaws in the Dodgers’ security have been pointed out numerous times since testimony began May 29. A former security guard testified that it took security 20 to 30 minutes to move from the stadium to the parking lots after games. Several witnesses said no security or ushers were in the section where one of Stow’s attackers harassed other fans throughout the game. Two security guards assigned to the parking lot where Stow was eventually beaten said they were not in the area when the attack took place. And the Dodgers’ head of security testified that he left the organization for a year in part because he disagreed with the decision to decrease the number of uniformed off-duty officers at games.
The Dodgers’ defense has repeatedly pointed out that about 200 on-duty LAPD officers were stationed outside the stadium and in the parking lots that day. The FBI, California Highway Patrol and the Los Angeles Fire Department also had a presence. A hotline number to call or text complaints was posted periodically on the Jumbotron and security personnel roamed sections. According to budget reports, the Dodgers increased spending on security over the years and improved its infrastructure, adding surveillance cameras and golf carts to curb drinking in the parking lots. The blame, attorneys say, rests with Louie Sanchez and Marvin Norwood, who pleaded guilty to the assault earlier this year.
But Heavens’ testimony pinned the liability on the Dodgers, from whom he said he received no instruction on how to respond to fights. “It was more or less, this is what’s going to happen, there wasn’t any training,” he said.
Heavens said security was directed to go home after news spread of Stow’s beating. He later contacted Stow’s attorneys and volunteered to talk about his experience.
“It was moral reasons,” Heavens said. “When I heard that call coming in over the radio and our supervisor told us to go home, I felt bad.”
Under cross-examination, Heavens grew increasingly frustrated with Dodgers attorney Dana Fox. Fox attempted to show that according to the field incident cards Heavens turned in, the guard had not been involved in as many fights as he said.
“Yes, I had, it’s just that I didn’t have any more [field incident] cards, that’s what I’m trying to tell you,” Heavens said.
Fox pointed out that the former guard had attended two all-day training sessions with the organization before opening day.
“It was more orientation,” Heavens said. “No one gave me hands-on ability and showed me this is what you do in this situation.”
When the attorney pointed out that Heavens was not an unbiased witness because he had aligned himself with the plaintiffs, he was met with a rebuttal.
“I’ve aligned myself with the truth and the truth is my supervisor told me to leave when that man was bleeding out of both of his ears,” Heavens retorted.
Reminded often by Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Victor E. Chavez to stick to the question, Heavens was quick to repeat his opinion under redirect examination by one of Stow’s attorneys.
“The only reason that I’m here is so the truth can be told — the fact that this man did not have enough security,” Heavens said.