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Brawl Between City Officials Leaves Commerce Councilman Leonard Mendoza Unconscious

COMMERCE (CBSLA) -- Voters are always complaining that politicians don't reach out across the aisle enough, to work together.

Tonight, apparently, at least two Commerce councilmen had enough of each other.

A photo, obtained by Los Cerritos Community News, appears to show councilman Leonard Mendoza lying unconscious on the floor with numerous drops of blood at his feet. A man is seen in the photo checking his pulse.

CBS2/KCAL9 reporter Jeff Nguyen says the photo of the aftermath of the fight is going viral.

It's unclear how the melee started or what touched it off but officials say at least two councilmen got into it physically and punched each other this weekend -- as many as five others jumped in.

The incident took place at the Renaissance Indian Wells Resort and Spa Saturday afternoon at around 12:30 p.m. on Saturday, according to the Riverside County Sheriff's Department.

Members of the Commerce City Council were there reportedly to attend a conference for local government officials.

Seven people were involved but all seven were described as "uncooperative" when deputies arrived.

One person was transported to the hospital with non-life threatening injuries.

Those familiar with the photo and the participants said, Mendoza and a council colleague, Ivan Altamirano, were having a conversation that "become elevated."

The city of Commerce issued a statement Sunday evening.

"The city has been made aware of reports of a confrontation between some City officials that took place outside of the City's jurisdiction. Given that, and the fact that the City is unclear on the specifics, the City has no further comment at this time."

The mayor gave his side this evening. In a written statement on Facebook he said, "A physical altercation  broke out between these two men" (councilman Leonard Mendoza and mayor pro tem Ivan Altamirano.)"

Mayor John Soria said he tried to diffuse the situation after Mendoza was knocked out by separating Altamirano from Mendoza who was already on the ground. Soria said two others jumped him and Altamirano from behind.

In his statement Soria also wrote, "I want to be clear in condemning the violent behavior from the individuals who initiated these assaults. Violence is never the answer and as elected officials we are held to a higher standard."

The Riverside County Sheriff's said they were investigating the incident. At this point they said they weren't releasing the names of any of the alleged brawlers.


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