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California

L.A. firefighter’s lawyer asks jurors to acquit client in assault case

Assault case
Ian Eulian, a Los Angeles Fire Department engineer, and his mother, Lonieta Fontaine, were charged in an attack on a woman who fed stray cats in their neighborhood.
(Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

The attorney for a Los Angeles City firefighter accused of assaulting a woman feeding stray cats told jurors on Friday that his client only began throwing punches at the victim after she kicked his elderly mother.

Surveillance video captured last year by cameras on a community arts center in the city’s West Adams neighborhood shows Ian Eulian, who was off duty, punching a woman and his mother slapping her.

In the video, Eulian, 38, appears to strike out at the victim, pull her out of her Jeep and shove her to the ground. He then appears to throw a punch while she is on the street.

During closing arguments Friday, defense attorney Robert A. Schwartz told jurors that only one punch landed and that it followed an altercation in which the victim threatened to kill Eulian and kicked his mother, Lonieta Fontaine. Schwartz told the jury that during an earlier court proceeding the victim had admitted to kicking Fontaine, 71. 

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During his rebuttal, Deputy Dist. Atty. Joshua Ritter played a clip of the video showing Eulian hitting the victim.

“That is brutal. That is vicious. That is senseless,” he told the jury. “He was caught red-handed on video tape.”

Ritter argued that a reasonable person -- and certainly someone with Eulian’s work background -- should have known to take the victim to a hospital.

“He’s a firefighter,” he said. “He should have known better.”

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Schwartz also touched on his client’s occupation, but asked the jury not to let it influence their decision about whether he had committed a crime.

“He’s not charged with being a negligent firefighter in this case,” Schwartz said. “Is it his fault that he chose a profession -- one of the most noble professions someone can go into in this society?”

Eulian, who is on administrative leave, is charged with one felony count of battery with serious bodily injury and one felony count of assault. Fontaine is charged with one count of being an accessory after the fact. 

For more Los Angeles County criminal court news, follow @marisagerber

 


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