A Sylmar man who was caught on cell phone video punching two women in the face during a dispute with a hot dog vendor in downtown Los Angeles pleaded guilty to misdemeanor battery charges and was sentenced to three years of probation, 30 days in county jail and 30 days of community labor, the Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office announced Monday.
Arka Sangbaran Oroojian, 30, also was ordered to complete 24 anger management classes; to stay 100 yards away from both women and the location where the Jan. 26 attack occurred; and not to possess any weapons, including guns, while on probation.
Additionally, Oroojian accepted liability for the victims’ injuries and agreed to pay them restitution — the amount was not immediately clear — and was ordered to write both women an apology letter, according to the City Attorney’s Office.
“This was a brutal assault,” said City Attorney Mike Feuer. “Attacks like this have no place in our city and won’t be tolerated.”
Oroojian, who has insisted the women in the video attacked him first and that he acted in self-defense, entered his plea on May 28 to two of the five misdemeanor battery charges filed against him on Feb. 27. Had he been convicted as charged, he could have faced up to 30 months in jail.
Oroojian was seen on cell phone video that was widely circulated online — including by the Los Angeles Police Department — punching two women on a sidewalk as a crowd gathered around them near Sixth and Spring streets. Both women were knocked to the ground during the brawl, after which Oroojian was seen running from the scene.
One of the women involved in the fight said the assailant was arguing with a vendor over the $6 cost of a hot dog. When the confrontation escalated, another vendor offered the man a free hot dog, but the man continued arguing, prompting the two women to intervene.
“Me and my friend said something like, `Just leave,”’ the unidentified woman told NBC4.
The father of one of the women posted the video on Facebook and expressed outrage that no one came to their aid.
“Nobody even tried to help them up or ask if they were OK. Instead, the people standing around laughed and cheered as if the sight of two small girls getting beat on by a huge 250 lb. man was a sight of entertainment,” he wrote. “One of the people watching was a bouncer of the bar this occurred in front of.”
Oroojian surrendered to police Jan. 29, after the video went viral and the LAPD posted it on the agency’s social media accounts in search of the man depicted in the footage.
He told reporters in subsequent interviews that the video does not show the entire confrontation. He insisted he was protecting himself from the women, who cursed and attacked him.
“I definitely feel bad, I wish they didn’t spit on me or attack me,” Oroojian told Fox11.
He said he was upset about the quality of a hot dog he had just purchased from a vendor when the women went after him.
“The woman that was cussing me out spits on me, her friend then attacks me, I fall down on the ground, they both start kicking me,” Oroojian said. “If you look at the video, it literally shows them coming towards me. I was just defending myself. I’m a really big person, the last thing I want to do is fight.”
Oroojian said he wanted people to know his side of what happened and to defend himself from attacks on social media.
“The truth is, I was just defending myself, that’s all I was doing,” he said then. “I hope people can hear this because they’re crucifying me (on social media).”
A man claiming to have witnessed the brawl told CBS2 the women were to blame for the fight.
“There’s two sides to every story and those two women started that,” the witness, identified only as Stewart, told the station.
He said the women called the man derogatory names before the scuffle began and “started punching on him first. Once they punched on him first, jumping on his back, then he defended himself by counterpunching these women and things like that. So the video caught only the second glimpse of the story.”
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