The man who's out on bail after being arrested in a caught-on-video attack on two women in downtown Los Angeles spoke alongside his attorney Thursday, saying he was acting in self-defense and the footage doesn't tell the whole story.
Arka Oroojian, 30, of Sylmar, turned himself in to police Tuesday night after video of the Jan. 26 incident — which authorities said began as a dispute with a hot dog vendor — received national attention.
L.A. police say the case is being investigated as an assault with a deadly weapon.
Oroojian said the "surreal" ordeal may jeopardize his job as a cardiac sonographer, but his friends and family are standing by him.
The suspect — who police described as being 6 feet 3 inches tall and weighing 270 pounds — does not deny that he hit the two women. But he says the footage that's been widely shared unfairly portrays him as the aggressor.
“I can’t believe it happened. I was defending myself,” he said. “Because I’m a big person, I’m being crucified all over social media right now.”
Oroojian said he was visiting a friend who works at a lounge near Spring and Sixth streets that night. Before heading home, he decided to grab a hot dog but got into an argument with the vendor over quality.
“I hear a woman just cussing me out from the back,” he said. “The woman spits on me, and her friend attacks me — physically hits me."
Oroojian said he then lost his balance and fell to the ground, where the women began kicking him.
“I didn’t really know how many people there were or what was going on," he told KTLA. "When I got up, I just felt like I had to defend myself. That’s where the video started to show.”
Oroojian said he "retreated" as soon as he "caught a moment."
The cellphone footage begins with Oroojian dealing a powerful blow the one woman's stomach, causing her to fall on her behind. The second woman then approaches him from the side, and he responds with another swift punch that knocks her to the ground as well. He then punches the first woman a second time before running from the scene.
In a Facebook post that's since been deleted, the father of one of the women involved said both were punched in the face multiple times — with some of the blows dealt before the filming began. Mike Watson said his daughter didn't know the other woman, but had leapt to her defense after Oroojian became aggressive.
Both women suffered concussions and were taken to an emergency room, and one of them broke a finger, according to LAPD.
Oroojian’s attorney, Cristopher Reyes, said his client had no intention of injuring the women.
"Obviously, if that was he intent, he would easily be able to accomplish that," Reyes said. "That’s why when he would hit one of the women in response to what he was receiving, they would get right back up and the altercation would continue."
Oroojian was released from custody Wednesday after posting a $90,000 bail, jail records show.
He is scheduled to appear in court on Feb. 22.