Ex-Montebello cop pleads guilty to on-duty assault; sentenced to probation

MONTEBELLO >> A former Montebello police officer charged with slamming a tagging suspect’s head into the pavement during an arrest will avoid jail time after pleading guilty to a misdemeanor charge Tuesday, authorities said.
Mark Jason Ryan, 37, pleaded guilty to one misdemeanor count of assault under color of authority in Los Angeles County Superior Court in Los Angeles at what was scheduled to be a hearing to set a date for his preliminary hearing, Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office spokeswoman Jane Robison said.
He was immediately sentenced to 36 months of summary probation and 300 hours of community service, and ordered to stay 100 yards away from the victim for the term of his probation, Robison said.
Prosecutors initially filed a felony charge against Ryan for the on-duty attack, which took place on Halloween of 2014.
If convicted of the felony charge, Ryan could have faced up to three years in state prison.
Ryan worked as a corporal with the Montebello Police Department when he responded to a report of two men tagging in the 2100 block of West Whittier Boulevard.
While arresting then 26-year-old Anthony Acosta, Ryan slammed Acosta’s head into the pavement in an unjustified assault, prosecutors said.
“He was roughed up pretty good,” said Acosta’s father, Oscar Acosta said. His son, who already suffered from mental health issues, remains depressed and anxious and has been dealing with memory loss issues since the incident.
“Since it happened, he hasn’t been the same,” Oscar Acosta said.
And even following the conviction, the victim, his family and their attorney, Brian Claypool of the Pasadena-based Claypool Law Firm, said they have many questions about exactly what happened that day.
Oscar Acosta said he and his son first learned of the arrest through media reports and were not notified of the pending plea arrangement.
While the assault was reportedly captured on video by the surveillance camera of a nearby restaurant, authorities have not released the video.
Since the case ended in a plea arrangement prior to trial, the video was not entered into evidence and would not be released by the district attorney’s office, Robison said.
Montebello Police Chief Kevin McClure deferred to the district attorney’s office regarding the video. “Everything evidentiary was turned over to the District Attorney and they have authority over it,” he said in an email.
Claypool said he intended to file a lawsuit to pursue more information.
“We plan on getting to the bottom of this. We want to see that video tape,” he said.
“We’re going to file a civil lawsuit,” Claypool said. “We’re also going to file a preservation of evidence letter,” Claypool said, which would seek to prevent authorities from deleting or discarding any video or other evidence.
Ryan retired from the Montebello Police Department in early 2016, officials said.
He worked for the department for 13 years, according to his online resume. Prior to that, He served in the U.S. Army from 1999 to 2003
Ryan served as president of the Montebello Police Officers’ Association in 2015.
McClure declined to comment on Tuesday’s conviction.
“Mark Ryan was a former officer so we were not made aware of today’s proceeding’s,” McClure said. The Montebello PD does not have any comment related to this case.”
Ryan was scheduled to return to court for a probation progress report in one year, Robison said.

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