A man placed in a medically induced coma following an altercation in a SoFi Stadium parking lot during Sunday’s NFC Championship Game appeared in surveillance video to have instigated the fight, Inglewood Mayor James Butts said during a news conference Thursday.
Forty-year-old Daniel Luna was found “on the ground, unconscious” in lot L of SoFi Stadium by security at about 4 p.m., Butts said during the evening news conference.
Luna was treated and transported to Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, where he was placed into a medically induced coma to prevent brain swelling. Butts said Luna was bleeding intracranially.
Police were notified about the incident around 7 p.m. but Luna was already in a coma before officers could get a statement, Butts said.
Surveillance video of the incident, described by the mayor as “very blurry,” has been located by Inglewood police.
“The video is not clear enough in clarity to recognize faces, but you definitely can recognize jerseys. You can recognize male versus female,” Butts said.
The video shows Luna mingling with other fans in the parking lot, Butts said. The majority of fans are wearing red and appear to be 49ers fans.
Luna is seen pushing a person wearing what appeared to be a yellow Rams jersey, who is now being described as the suspect, from behind before turning his back, Butts said.
The suspect then retaliated by pushing Luna from behind and then striking him once in the mouth area when Luna turned around, Butts said.
Luna fell backward and appeared to hit his head.
Butts said he did not see a time stamp on the video so it was unclear how long Luna was down in the parking lot before he was found by security personnel.
A person who said they were a cousin of the suspect contacted KTLA Thursday to say the supsect turned himself in.
The cousin said the incident happened right after the 49ers scored their first touchdown and a group of 49ers fans, who she says appeared to be drunk, approached them.
She said one of the fans pushed her cousin before her cousin turned and punched him.
Inglewood police confirmed Friday morning that an arrest was made in the case.
A friend of Luna’s said he was surprised by the incident and said Luna is not an aggressive man.
“Definitely out of character from the Daniel I know … I still can’t believe it to this moment,” Luna’s longtime friend Chauncey Kirtdoll said. Kirtdoll Described Luna as a fun-loving guy. “Positive, upbeat. Never bothered anyone,” Kirtdoll said.
Butts said the encounter took place quickly and that he was not concerned about security at the stadium, which will host the Super Bowl in less than two weeks.
“I’m very comfortable there was sufficient security. You’re not going to stop every altercation, argument that occurs between fans. It’s just not going to happen,” Butts said.
“The encounter was about five seconds … It wasn’t even five seconds,” Butts said.
Butts described the incident as very different than the one that occurred at Dodger Stadium several years ago that left a San Francisco Giants fan in a coma.
“It wasn’t like you had people ganging up on somebody and beating him as you did in Dodger Stadium,” Butts said.
The mayor also addressed concerns that the incident wasn’t reported to the media earlier.
“There was no way to know there was a crime until that video was located,” Butts said. “When I found out that we had something that could be a crime. That is when I called a press conference. Which is today.”
Butts said the initial injury call alone was not enough of a reason to alert the media.
Butts said sometimes people are intoxicated and fall and hurt themselves, or maybe have medical problems like congestive heart failure.
“There are all types of injuries that occur within crowds and you don’t call and hold a press conference for every one,” Butts said.
Police are still searching for a vehicle that was seen on the surveillance video and are asking anyone with information about the incident to call them at 310-412-8771.