A heated argument between elected officials of the city of Commerce led to punches thrown, and the bloody brawl left Councilman Leonard Mendoza knocked unconscious on the ground.
The melee broke out early Saturday morning at the Renaissance Indian Wells Resort – southeast of Palm Springs – during a meeting of that included elected officials from across the region, according to the Los Angeles Times.
“To be honest with you, it’s pretty embarrassing, the fact that our officials are doing this,” Commerce resident Hector Maravilla said.
Mayor John Soria released a statement saying the physical altercation began with an argument between Mendoza and Vice Mayor Ivan Altamirano.
The mayor said he had stepped in to defuse the situation when both he and Altamirano were attacked from behind by two other men.
Altamirano suffered a gash on his lip. His attorney said Mendoza was the aggressor – and pointed to a pattern of alleged violent behavior involving the councilman.
In a video provided to KTLA, Mendoza can be seen being carted out on a gurney from a different incident in January at a local bar.
“It’s not the first time one of our officials had this situation happen to him. He did get knocked out at Maguey bar not too long ago,” Maravilla alleged.
KTLA went to Mendoza’s listed home address, but there was no answer.
Mendoza told the Times he was having a “heated” conversation with Altamirano and then shortly thereafter felt a blow from behind. He woke up in the hospital and didn’t know who hit him, he told the Times.
“It must’ve been one of those things where I got knocked out with one punch,” he said.
Some residents said they’ve had enough with their local politicians.
“Very unprofessional. … I think you have to act in a manner more professional than what they’re presenting,” Edder Pinedo said.
Soria said he intended to file a report with the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department, and intended to “press charges.” The next City Council meeting is set for next week.
Correction: An earlier headline for this story incorrectly indicated the recent altercation occurred at a Commerce City Council meeting. The story has been updated.