MALIBU HIGH — Trouble, it seems, is always right around the corner.

Tuesday evening, as school board member Oscar de la Torre was heading to a candidate forum being held at Malibu High School, for the second time this year, he saw a fight in progress and stopped to intervene.

The scuffle had apparently broken out between a group of six young men who had been skateboarding on the school’s campus and several school custodians who told them to leave the premises.

For de la Torre, it was a case of deja vu.

The school board member became the focus of a Santa Monica Police Department investigation back in March after he showed up at the scene of a fist fight between two high school students near the Pico Youth & Family Center, which he runs.

Police argued de la Torre had failed to intervene in the fight promptly based on a cell phone video taken by a bystander that showed him stepping in after about a minute. Detectives presented a felony child endangerment case to the District Attorney’s Office, but prosecutors declined to press charges.

After public outcry that the police investigation may have been politically motivated, City Hall hired an independent investigator to review the police department’s work on the case. The investigator’s review has not yet been completed.

Though he was never charged with a crime in connection with the earlier fight, de la Torre on Tuesday said his previous experience initially made him reluctant to intervene on Tuesday.

“I’m a little traumatized by that, but I feel as a community peacemaker I have a responsibility and I have a mission — I had to follow my conscience,” he said.

de la Torre said he intervened as a custodian was taking off his jacket in preparation to escalate the fight. He said he helped calm the participants down before he continued in to the candidate forum.

Lt. Scott Chew of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department said officers received a call about the fight at 7:05 p.m. on Tuesday.

Six skateboarders were “trying to pick a fight with a custodian,” according to a report on the incident, Chew said. No arrests were made.

The skateboarders were from Camarillo and were not students at Malibu High, de la Torre said. An attempt to reach Malibu High School principal Mark Kelley was not successful.

nickt@www.smdp.com

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *