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Not-Guilty Plea in Freeway Fight

Man at center of road-rage case pleads not guilty in connection with previous freeway fight.

A man who was knocked unconscious in an apparent road-rage beating on Interstate 5 pleaded not guilty today in Long Beach to charges stemming from a previous driving-under-the-influence, hit-and-run and battery case.

Jerry Patterson, 49, is due back in court Aug. 8. Patterson was arrested just before noon June 21 on a warrant issued in Long Beach stemming from an incident on May 25 at the intersection of Corona Avenue and The Toledo, Nancy Pratt of the Long Beach Police Department said. "A hit-and-run collision occurred, and the driver fled the scene. He was followed by a witness to another location.''

Pratt said the witness made contact with Patterson and was allegedly
assaulted by him. "Police arrived and the suspect driver was arrested for DUI, non-injury hit-and-run and battery,'' Pratt said. "He did not show up for court and a warrant was issued for his arrest .''

In the other road-rage confrontation, California Highway Patrol officers arrested David Mendez, 21, and Edras Ramirez, 27, both of Los Angeles, on June 20 and booked them on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon in connection with the 5 Freeway brawl involving Patterson, according to Officer Ming Hsu of the CHP's public affairs office.

Mendez and Ramirez were released on bail the following day and are
tentatively scheduled to appear in court in downtown Los Angeles on July 13. Investigators have said they have not decided whether charges are warranted against the alleged victim—Patterson—in connection with the confrontation
among the men on Interstate 5, which was recorded by a bystander using a
cell phone camera.

The recording was posted on the website LiveLeak and received more than
130,000 hits within hours.

CHP Officer Denise Joslin said the fight apparently happened about 3:30
p.m. June 12 on the northbound 5 south of Seventh Street in the East LA
Interchange. The video depicts Patterson apparently arguing with three men outside their cars on the side of the freeway. Patterson and one of the three men square off and exchange blows, but then a second man jumps Patterson and helps take him to the ground.

Patterson told ABC7 he was trying to drive away from his assailants, but
they chased him down and blocked his vehicle. "As I remember it, I'm trying to get away. They followed me,'' Patterson said. "It got to a point where they blocked me on the freeway. I couldn't back up, couldn't move forward. The guy got out of the car, and so I got out with him. I wasn't going to let him walk up on me, and I just defended myself to the best of my ability.''

On the video, shortly after he was knocked to the ground, Patterson
appeared to fall unconscious. The two suspects then repeatedly kicked him in
the head as he lay on the pavement with his arms at his sides. The three men then got into an older model Volkswagen Jetta and fled the scene.

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