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Councilmember Kevin de León involved in fight during community holiday event

LAPD investigating altercation involving Councilman Kevin de León, activist Jason Reedy
LAPD investigating altercation involving Councilman Kevin de León, activist Jason Reedy 02:45

Councilmember Kevin de León was involved in a physical altercation during a Lincoln Heights holiday event on Friday night.

"This evening a staff member, volunteer, and I were violently and physically assaulted by self-proclaimed activists at a community holiday event to the dismay of a multitude of families and children who were there to celebrate a Christmas tree lighting and to receive toys and food," the councilmember alleged in a statement.

A post that hit Twitter Friday evening showed De León assaulting a local organizer. However, the councilman and his camp disputed this claim.

According to De León's spokesperson, the councilman was on stage at about 6:30 p.m. when a group of 5 or 6 people approached him. The group rushed De León as he tried to exit off the stage with a woman and her infant. At this point, one of the people in the group is alleged to have headbutted De León, which caused an altercation between the two men. 

The Los Angeles Police Department confirmed that they responded to the location of the event after receiving a report of a "large group fight." Authorities said that when officers arrived there was a man receiving treatment from paramedics for "body pain." Both men are said to have filed battery reports with officers.

New video shows moments leading to physical ruckus involving Kevin de León 00:36

They plan to investigate the incident.

New video posted on Saturday by Twitter users J-Town Action and Solidarity shows the moments before the fight broke out.

The new footage shows People's City Council organizer Jason Reedy, walking backwards in front of De León while holding his phone in his face. As the councilman reaches a door, Reedy is pushed out of the way by someone else in the group.

When De León makes his way through the door, Reedy follows — holding his hands in the air as he stands face-to-face with the councilman. 

It was then that the scuffle shown in the first footage, which was released Friday evening. That video shows De León grabbing Reedy and pushing him into a table as a group of people closes in on the pair.  

While speaking with reporters Friday evening following the incident, De León said that a "group of individuals came in ... shouting and screaming."

He alleges that they locked the door he was trying to exit. 

"What is not captured, obviously, in the video, as I was up against the wall, he thrusted his pelvis into me then he headbutted me in the forehead," De León said. 

De León added that after he grabbed the Reedy and pushed him around the corner, he was hit "across the face" twice.

He also says that his Chief of Staff, Jennifer Barraza, took an elbow to the face when she tried to intervene. 

De León says he plans to press charges against Reedy.

While speaking with CBS reporters in private on Saturday, Reedy said that he had injuries to his neck and back from the altercation.

On Saturday, the councilman's office issued a statement on the incident.

An attorney for Reedy released the following statement on Saturday:

"Kevin de Leon is a disgrace. Video footage clearly shows him and his supporters initiating this assault while Mr. Reedy stands with his hands up. Not only has Kevin de Leon lost all political legitimacy, his claims that he was the one attacked here simply underscores how he's lost touch with reality.

Kevin de Leon and his supporters assaulted Mr. Reedy for voicing criticism of Kevin de Leon at a public event, echoing the widespread demands for him to resign. De Leon's supporters initiated physical contact by shoving him, and De Leon himself grabbed Mr. Reedy. Mr. Reedy had his hands up and did not initiate physical contact with anyone. Mr. Reedy has reported the assault to LAPD."

The statement also calls De León's Friday night interview with reports "rambling" and "including claims that Mr Reedy or others initiated physical contact, initiated a fight, or locked exit doors."

On Friday, after a months-long absence, Kevin de León returned to City Council chambers for the first time since the fallout following the release of a racist conversation involving the embattled councilman and two other councilmembers.

"The escalating rhetoric is hitting a fever pitch, transcending from verbal threats into actual acts of violence and must end before more serious harm or loss of life occurs," de León's spokesperson said. "Violence is not free speech and has no place in politics or democracy." 

After learning of the incident, Council President Paul Krekorian issued a statement, which read: 

"This evening, Councilmember Kevin De León, a member of his staff and a volunteer were physically attacked by people who disrupted a community holiday event to call for his resignation. This kind of crime is intolerable in a free society, and the incident will be vigorously investigated by the Los Angeles Police Department.

No matter what disputes we may have with elected officials or our fellow citizens, violence like this is completely unacceptable. In a free society political disagreements are unavoidable, and passionate discussion is necessary, but violence discredits the cause that employs it.

This city has endured horrendous division and toxicity in recent months. We need to reject hatred in all of its forms, and we need to reject the atmosphere of intimidation, bullying and threats that have become all too commonplace in this city and across the country. Whatever position each of us takes on the controversies of the day, we need to reject violent words and especially violent acts, and we need to start treating each other with the same respect we want others to show us even when we disagree."

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