- The Washington Times - Monday, June 15, 2009

LOS ANGELES (AP) - Los Angeles police say eight officers have suffered minor injuries during downtown disturbances that erupted amid street celebrations of the Lakers’ NBA championship victory over the Orlando Magic.

Officer Gregory Baek (BEK) says the officers were taken to hospitals for treatment of the injuries sustained during melees Sunday night in the Staples Center area.

What began as a lively but peaceful celebration took on a different tone for those remaining a few hours after the game. Some in the crowd vandalized a shoe store, buses and police cars, set small fires and threw rocks and bottles at police.

Police say 18 people were arrested for disturbing the peace, arson and other infractions. Three of those arrested were juveniles.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP’s earlier story is below.

LOS ANGELES (AP) _ Downtown celebrations after the Los Angeles Lakers’ championship win turned ugly as darkness fell, with some throwing rocks and bottles that left five police officers with minor injuries.

Police also said Monday that police cruisers were damaged, windows on public buses were smashed and fires were set in the street. Seventeen people were arrested Sunday night after police declared the gathering an unlawful assembly, authorities said.

Five officers had minor injuries, Sgt. Andy Mathes said. One of the officers was taken to a hospital and the others were treated at the scene.

Reinforcement officers were called in from throughout the city to help disperse the crowd, officer Karen Rayner said.

Television footage showed people jumping on police cars, rocking vehicles attempting to pass through the crowd, setting small trees on fire and throwing bricks at empty buses. A gas station and a shoe store were looted, police said.

Chief William Bratton told KNX radio Monday that police planned to watch the video in an attempt to identify vandals and make further arrests.

Bratton commended his officers for showing restraint despite “a lot of provocation from a number of knuckleheads,” he told KTTV-TV.

“It’s not easy to stand there when cowards in the middle of the crowd are throwing rocks and bottles at them,” Bratton said.

The 17 arrests were for disturbing the peace, arson, outstanding warrants and other infractions, Rayner said.

Across the country in Florida, the Lakers beat the Orlando Magic 99-86 in Game 5 of the NBA finals Sunday night to win their 15th championship and first in seven years.

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