LOS ANGELES, May 3 — Chief William J. Bratton of the Los Angeles Police Department said Thursday that the episode here in which police officers clashed with demonstrators and journalists on Tuesday at an immigration rally was the “worst incident of this type I have ever encountered in 37 years” in law enforcement.
Eight officers and at least 15 civilians were hurt, the police said, with people still calling the department on Thursday to report injuries. Mr. Bratton said 240 nonlethal projectiles were fired by the police into the crowd.
“Clearly, something went wrong here,” he said in a interview.
After a request by Mr. Bratton, the F.B.I. announced Thursday that it would open a civil rights inquiry into the incident, which has drawn outrage from immigrant and civic groups and journalists’ organizations and a rebuke from the City Council. On Wednesday Mr. Bratton announced two internal investigations by the Police Department.
News video images of the incident that erupted at a peaceful gathering in MacArthur Park, west of downtown, showed the police marching into the crowd, shoving and knocking down demonstrators and journalists with batons and firing rubber bullets at close range.
In television and press interviews throughout the day, Mr. Bratton said he was troubled by the police action he saw on the videos, and he sought to assure the city that he intended full disclosure of the facts.
Organizers of the May Day rally, whose theme was a call for broad changes to immigration laws, said they had held extensive negotiations with the police in preparing for the demonstration. They said the police did not follow the agreed-upon procedure in case of a disturbance.
“It completely broke down,” said Victor Narro of the National Lawyers Guild, who was the organizers’ liaison with the police.
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from the Los Angeles Times:
here's Police Chief William Bratton on the LAPD's violent assault on innocent protestors, journalists and bystanders:
"Here you have a tent clearly [for the] news media," Bratton said. The anchor "wears a suit and tie and there is clearly cameras … and the knocking over of cameras in the tent -- that behavior is not under any circumstances justified."
He also said he was troubled by reports that police used force on women and children who had gone to the park to play.
"The idea that officers would be firing -- some of these devices send out five or six projectiles with one shot -- that is a concern," Bratton said.