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Seven charged with assaulting police during L.A. street racing incident

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Police investigate the wreckage of a street racing crash that left four people dead in Northridge in late 2017.
(Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)

Seven men have been charged with attacking Los Angeles police officers who were trying to chase a hit-and-run suspect during a street racing incident in South L.A., prosecutors said Monday.

Two officers saw a hit-and-run incident at a “street racing gathering” near Manchester and Western avenues in South L.A. on April 16, but when they tried to chase the suspect, seven men blocked their path, according to a news release issued by the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office.

The men are accused of obstructing the LAPD cruiser as other onlookers threw rocks and bottles at the car, allowing the hit-and-run suspect to escape, prosecutors said. Each defendant was charged with assault on a peace officer, resisting arrest and throwing objects at a vehicle with the intent to cause great bodily injury, authorities said.

The defendants are: Kylee Michael Carter, 21; Brian Douglas Dion Jr., 21, of Gardena; Markie Dijion Gatewood, 21, of Los Angeles; Steven Hurtado, 18, of Paramount; Christopher Luis Ramirez, 21, of Chatsworth; Michael Robert Ramirez, 20, of Carson; and Davion Anthony Williams, 20.

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Carter will appear in court Monday, but the other six defendants have pleaded not guilty, prosecutors said. Each defendant faces up to seven years and eight months in prison if convicted on all charges.

Earlier this year, a Los Angeles Times review of coroner’s records, media accounts and police reports found at least 170 people have died in crashes where street racing was suspected in Los Angeles County between 2000 and 2017. More than half of those killed were under 21, and 47% of those who died were behind the wheel of a vehicle involved in a race.

According to the California Highway Patrol, there were 700 racing incidents in the county between July 2016 and July 2017.

Investigators have said racers have grown more aggressive toward police and emergency personnel in recent years, describing situations similar to the April incident, with lines of racers blocking officers from pursuing suspects.

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In December, a fire engine and ambulance responding to a medical emergency near downtown Los Angeles were obstructed when they came across a street racing “takeover” — an event where racers shut down an intersection or strip of asphalt to perform burnouts and other dangerous driving stunts.

Dozens of people surrounded and jumped on the emergency vehicles, blocking their path. No one was injured, but another ambulance needed to be dispatched to help the subject of the original emergency call, who was struggling to breathe, fire officials said.

james.queally@latimes.com

Follow @JamesQueallyLAT for crime and police news in California.


UPDATES:

2:10 p.m.: This article was updated to correct the date of the incident, which the district attorney’s office initially misreported as April 19.

This article was originally published at 11:40 a.m.

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