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California

Dodger Stadium beating case handed over to Robbery-Homicide Division

Los Angeles police officials on Wednesday transferred control of the Dodger Stadium beating investigation to the LAPD’s elite Robbery-Homicide Division, a move welcomed by Dist. Atty. Steve Cooley, who said it may improve prosecutors’ access to information in the case.

Until this week, the search for the two men responsible for brutally beating San Francisco Giants fan Bryan Stow on March 31 had been conducted by detectives from the LAPD’s Northeast Division. The decision not to assign the case immediately to Robbery-Homicide, which specializes in high-profile, complex investigations, was viewed by many LAPD observers as odd, given the intense media scrutiny the attack has generated and hundreds of tips police have had to sort through.

In a brief statement issued by the LAPD on Wednesday morning, officials said the case was turned over because “as the demands of the case become more complex and prolonged, RHD detectives will be better equipped to conduct the investigation.”

The release also noted that it was “not unusual for RHD to take over investigative responsibilities of high-profile, prolonged and complex cases.”

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Two weeks ago, police arrested Giovanni Ramirez, 31, on suspicion of being the primary assailant in the case. Ramirez, a gang member, is in custody for allegedly violating the terms of his parole from a previous conviction. Prosecutors have not yet filed criminal charges against him in the beating. LAPD Chief Charlie Beck has said repeatedly that detectives are continuing to gather evidence against Ramirez and will seek charges in the “near future.”

Cooley said he was unsure when that would happen. He declined to discuss evidence in the case, saying it would be improper. Beck also declined to discuss specifics of the investigation.

Cooley, however, highlighted what he said was the unusual way in which detectives had handled the investigation into Ramirez. Detectives, he said, often work closely with prosecutors to seek advice during an investigation before charges are filed, particularly in complicated, closely watched cases like this one. “It did not happen in this case,” he said. “The information we’ve received to date has been very, very limited.”

Beck defended how the Northeast Division detectives had handled communications with the district attorney’s office, saying prosecutors had been briefed. He said it is not unusual for detectives to wait to present all of their evidence until they are ready to seek formal charges.

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“Is there full disclosure to prosecutors of a case before we present it to them for a filing? No,” Beck said.

Cooley speculated that the reluctance to share information “may well change” now that Robbery-Homicide detectives were in charge of the case. The officers in the division have closer relationships with prosecutors than do detectives in LAPD’s area divisions, some department officials said.

Stow, a paramedic and father of two, was attacked as he waited with some friends for a taxi after the opening day game, according to a lawsuit filed against the Dodgers by his family. Hit in the head, Stow fell to the ground and struck his head on the pavement, the lawsuit states. He has remained in a coma and doctors have concluded he suffered brain damage.

Ramirez’s family has said he was at home at the time of the attack. Since being taken into custody he has taken polygraph tests and stood in line-ups before witnesses.

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jack.leonard@latimes.com

andrew.blankstein@latimes.com

Times staff writer Joel Rubin contributed to this report.


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