LA city council member faces fresh controversy after altercation captured on video

Politics

By Shawna Mizelle, CNN

Los Angeles city council member Kevin de León is facing renewed scrutiny after a video surfaced online Friday night of him engaged in a physical altercation with a community activist during a holiday event.

A 35-second video of the incident posted to Twitter by two local community organizations and also obtained by CNN appeared to depict De León shoving a man who is identified in the caption as local organizer Jason Reedy into a table.

That came after a crowd surrounded de León, following him through an exit and calling for his resignation because of audio leaked earlier this year in which he and other council members made racist comments about a fellow council member’s Black child. Both de León and Reedy held their hands up in the video, in which Reedy is seen cornering the council member and getting close to his face before de León appeared to push Reedy into a table and then push him down a hallway, where they exit the video frame. It’s unclear what happened after that.

De León said in a statement Saturday that he was acting in self-defense after being headbutted by Reedy.

“Once we were able to push open a door and try to get out, Reedy launched a pelvic thrust, followed by a headbutt to my forehead,” de León said. “My response, in defense of myself, was to push him off of me.”

Reedy’s attorney, Shakeer Rahman, told CNN earlier on Saturday that his client provided the video to the Los Angeles Police Department and reported an assault following the altercation.

“Video footage clearly shows him and his supporters initiating this assault while Mr. Reedy stands with his hands up. Not only has Kevin de León lost all political legitimacy, his claims that he was the one attacked here simply underscores how he’s lost touch with reality,” Rahman said in a statement.

When asked to respond to de León’s statement, Rahman repeated Reedy “did not initiate physical contact with anyone.”

CNN has reached out to the Los Angeles Police Department and de León’s office for comment on Friday’s altercation.

Calls for de León’s resignation have continued since October when audio of a year-old conversation between de Léon and fellow council members was posted anonymously on Reddit and obtained by the Los Angeles Times. Much of the conversation focused on maps proposed by the city’s redistricting commission and the council members’ frustration with them, but it also featured racist remarks about a fellow council member’s Black son and about Oaxacans. CNN was not able to verify the audio recording.

The audio prompted the resignation of council president Nury Martinez following widespread condemnation, including from President Joe Biden.

De León has repeatedly refused to resign but provided a statement to CNN in October saying, “On that day, I fell short of the expectations we set for our leaders — and I will hold myself to a higher standard.

“There were comments made in the context of this meeting that are wholly inappropriate; and I regret appearing to condone and even contribute to certain insensitive comments made about a colleague and his family in private,” de León added.

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CNN’s Sonnet Swire contributed to this report.

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