The Los Angeles Police Department has finally made an arrest in the case of that horrific beating of a San Francisco Giants fan at the Dodgers' home opener, and despite a wide-ranging billboard campaign advertising sketches of the suspect and the reward of $100,000, the arrest came when a parole officer meeting with a client realized the ex-convict looked like the man in the sketch.
Using a SWAT team, the department surrounded and arrested 31-year-old Giovanni Ramirez at his East Los Angeles apartment on Sunday, charging him with assault with a deadly weapon. They said he was one of two men who "blindsided" 42-year-old Bryan Stow in the parking lot of a Dodgers game. "Because he is accused of kicking Stow while he was unconscious on the ground, police consider Ramirez's foot a deadly weapon," the Los Angeles Times reports. They're still looking for another attacker and the man suspected of driving the car in which they fled.
After a billboard company donated some 300 signs for the department to broadcast the suspect's sketch and reward information, the department was flooded with "hundreds of dead-end leads and bogus tips from reward seekers," the Times reported. And while the person who eventually connected the dots was a law enforcement officer himself and would definitely have seen the sketch before it went up on the billboards, it's possible he had the image emblazoned in his mind because of the signs, especially considering the delay between the parole officer's meeting with Ramirez and the arrest. The Times fills in the sequence of events:
According to a source with knowledge of the investigation, the parole agent met with Ramirez for a mandatory check-in meeting shortly after the attack. By then, the LAPD had released sketches of the two assailants, and the agent noticed that Ramirez bore a resemblance to one of the men.
It is unclear whether the agent voiced his suspicions to LAPD detectives right away. But it wasn't until last week that police became focused on Ramirez. After police questioned a different parolee and determined he was not involved, Ramirez's agent, either speaking up for the first time or reiterating his beliefs, expressed his suspicions about Ramirez, the source said.
Ramirez was summoned back to the office for another meeting last week. When he arrived, the agent noticed he had recently added several tattoos, which covered a part of his neck, the source said. Authorities reasoned that Ramirez was trying to cover up an older tattoo in case a witness had seen the tattoo and described it to police.
Whether the billboards helped with this arrest remains to be seen, but they're staying up as police search for the second suspect. Ramirez, meanwhile, will stay in custody until he can post $1 million bail. That is to say, probably for a while.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.