By the LA Times City and Region Desk
August 24, 1984
Chaos erupted in a Los Angeles courtroom on Friday, as a defendant threatened the presiding judge and started an altercation involving a four associates, several police officers, and one jury member.
No one was injured in the brief melee, but the defendant, Samuel Roy Hagar, 37, was remanded to custody in the Los Angeles County Jail, along with four male associates, whose names were not released at press time.
The defendant had been taken into custody on charges of speeding, reckless driving, assaulting a police officer, and resisting arrest. After Judge Julius Hangman declared him in contempt of court and ordered his removal from the courtroom, Hagar broke free and mounted the judge’s bench, loudly declaring his inability to drive the posted speed limit of 55 mph and protesting the court’s decision to “take my license and all that jive.”
Someone from the crowd produced an electric guitar and threw it to Hagar, still atop the judge’s bench. Hagar attempted to play a guitar solo on the instrument as his four associates formed a barricade around him, in an effort to shield him from police. One officer was able to flush Hagar from the bench and give chase. According to several eyewitness accounts, Hagar threw the guitar into the air and performed a reverse somersault off of the east wall of the courtroom and over the head of the arresting officer, catching the guitar upon landing. “It was the damndest thing I ever saw,” exclaimed spectator Ronald Self. Hagar then leapt over the judge’s bench and landed upon another officer’s shoulders, while continuing his attempts to play the guitar.
Hagar was subdued by jury member Gertrude Baker, 85, of Torrance, who struck Mr. Hagar in the head with her umbrella.