A lifeguard whose attack by three people in Venice was captured on video had simply asked his assailants to stop smoking on the pier, one of the lifeguard’s supervisors said Friday.
The full-time lifeguard, who has been with the department for 10 years, was jumped by two men and a woman as soon as he hopped off the ladder at his tower at the Venice Pier on Thursday evening, authorities said.
The LAPD identified the two men as Harutiun Balyan, 30, and Ara Sarkisyan, 28. The woman was identified as Arusiak Gekchyan, 28. All three were arrested on suspicion of battery on an executive officer, a felony. They have been freed on bail, LAPD officials said.
Video of Thursday night’s confrontation was captured by pier visitors and posted on social media.
“This is the first time something like this has happened that I can recall,” said county lifeguard Capt. Kenichi Haskett. “We don’t get into physical altercations.”
The video shows two men swinging wildly at the lifeguard the moment he was off the ladder. Haskett said the lifeguard got down from the tower so he could have a clear conversation with the group. There’s a no smoking sign when you walk on the pier and lifeguards routinely ask people to not break the rules, Haskett said.
But only law enforcement can cite someone so lifeguards can act only as witnesses to a violation, he added.
At one point in the video, the lifeguard stands up and exchanges blows with one of the men while a bystander moves in and confronts the second attacker.
A second video shows a woman kicking at the lifeguard’s head when he was on the ground trying to get up.
Two other lifeguards eventually showed up and broke up the fight, video showed.
A recording of the fight’s aftermath showed one of the three fight suspects breathing heavily, lying on his back, his face covered in blood.
The confrontation occurred about 7:15 p.m., the LAPD said. The three people seen fighting the lifeguard were arrested on suspicion of felony assault, according to KTLA.
The lifeguard drove himself to the hospital after the fight – he is waiting for results to learn if he broke his hand, Haskett said. One of the lifeguard’s alleged attackers was also taken to the hospital for medical treatment, police said.
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