Meeting of California officials descends into physical brawl

A meeting of local government officials from across California reportedly dissolved into violence Saturday involving at least seven people.

While law enforcement could not immediately determine who started the fight, Commerce, Calif., Mayor John Soria said in a written statement backed up by several witnesses that the fight involved members of the Commerce City Council as well as other public officials.


Participants in the fight, which was first reported by Los Cerritos Community News also included political consultants, government vendors and Los Angeles–area elected officials, some of whom were attempting to break up the brawl.

Soria said in his statement that he had been told Councilmen Leonard Mendoza and Ivan Altamirano saw their conversation “become elevated,” leading him to try “to defuse any potential conflict,” at which point he saw Mendoza “apparently unconscious” on the floor and Altamirano standing and nursing an apparent facial injury.

Mendoza told the Los Angeles Times that Altamirano had interrupted a conversation he was having, leading him to ask Altamirano to step back. “I guess he didn't like that and it got heated and it got loud,” Mendoza told the newspaper. Mendoza said shortly following the argument he felt a blow from behind and awoke in the hospital. He said he did not know who struck him.

“I want to be clear in condemning the violent behavior from the individuals who initiated these assaults,” said Soria, who added that he planned to press charges and file a police report. “Once additional information is available, I intend to call on my council colleagues to take appropriate action regarding any individuals that represent the City of Commerce who were involved in the incident.”

The city’s Twitter account confirmed the incident and said it had no further comment as it occurred outside the city’s jurisdiction.

—Updated Monday at 12:48 p.m.