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Alleging assault by Downey's Mayor, noted City critic files $120,000 claim

Updated: Nov 5, 2021

Armando Herman is the most notable and the longest-running critic at Downey City Council. He speaks at every meeting, at every opportunity, often in opposition to Mayor Claudia Frometa, and in defense of the First Amendment. Upon being expelled by former Mayor Fernando Vasques in 2017, Herman collected a $5,000 settlement from the City.

Now, Political Life has obtained a copy of a $120,000 claim made by Herman against the City. In his claim and supporting documents, which we release unedited, as provided by the City, Mr. Herman says he was assaulted by the Mayor and her husband (“Mr. Frometa”) following the June 22nd, 2021, meeting. The claim includes a map of the City Hall parking lot showing the alleged encounter.

Political Life confirmed the encounter through a public records request of video footage. The video shows Mayor Frometa’s white Mercedes car zooming toward Mr. Herman and Mr. Mike Greenspan, who was listed as a witness by Mr. Herman.

When Frometa’s car stops, a man exits the car and walks around toward Herman. The figure puts his hand up to Mr. Herman’s face. Mr. Herman told Political Life that he was told, “If you don’t stop, we’re going to have you followed.”

Mayor Frometa may have stayed in the vehicle and driven away, but this is impossible to know with certainty: The time stamps show that Herman, Greenspan, and Frometa’s car were still by the curb at 12:17:59, but disappear a second later at 12:18:00. This is a physical, technical impossibility and suggests targeted editing of the record.

Of course, this is not the first time that Downey City has been caught editing sensitive, controversial public records. Earlier this year, edits were made to the City Council’s record of their meetings, alarming many residents who advocate for government transparency.

Herman’s fight

Following the encounter with Frometa, Herman said at a City Council, “When you want to challenge assholes like myself out in the street please remind yourselves, you’re public officials, you’re supposed to behave in the most appropriate manner.” He then said, “If you plan to kill me, on the record, all of you [referring to the audience] are all my witnesses.”

Mr. Herman now carries a camera at City Hall, and recently notified Political Life that the encounter is under investigation by the District Attorney.

Herman is expected to continue his criticism against the members of the Downey City Council, and has expressed an interest in taking the Mayor and the City to Court.

Political Life is a collective of citizen-journalists in Southeast Los Angeles County.

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