No Charges In Deadly L.A. School Fight

By: CNN (posted by Justin Surrency) Email
By: CNN (posted by Justin Surrency) Email

CNN-- Authorities declined to file criminal charges Wednesday against a fifth-grade student for the death of 10-year-old Joanna Ramos, who suffered fatal blunt force head trauma after a fistfight in February.

"This case was a fight between two children that ended with unintended and tragic results," according to a statement by Long Beach Police.

Joanna, a fifth-grader at Willard Elementary School, died six hours after an altercation with an unidentified 11-year-old female classmate, said Sgt. Rico Fernandez, a Long Beach Police spokesman. Authorities had ruled her death a homicide.

"Detectives presented all of the facts and evidence of the investigation to The Los Angeles District Attorney's office for review," the statement read. "They determined that they would not file any charges in the case."

Long Beach authorities declined further comment about the case.

In February, police said, Joanna and her classmate had challenged each other to a planned fight when their school session ended. "The two girls met in a nearby alley next to a church and began hitting each other," Fernandez said. The fight lasted less than a minute, and no weapons were involved, he said. CNN affiliate KABC reported that friends of Joanna's believed the fight occurred over a boy.

According to Long Beach Unified School District spokesman Chris Eftychiou, Joanna finished her regular school session at 2:12 p.m. on February 24 and was supposed to remain on campus to begin her scheduled after-school program at 2:30.

"We believe the altercation occurred during that 15-minute window because she apparently left and returned for the after-school session, which involves help with homework and academic-related activity," Eftychiou said. After the fight, the girls went their separate ways, he said.

Joanna stayed in the afternoon session for about an hour but did not exhibit obvious signs of physical trauma, Eftychiou said. "When she did complain of not feeling well, her cousin picked her up, but we had no indication she was involved in an altercation," he said. "Only when she was at the hospital did we get word about the altercation."

Joanna had been enrolled at the school for about a year and a half, Eftychiou said.

Los Angeles district attorney spokeswoman Sandi Gibbons confirmed the findings issued by the Long Beach Police Department but declined further comment because the case involved minors. "The Long Beach Police Department hopes that its conclusion brings some peace to both families involved, as well as the community," the statement said.


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