Inmate Pleads Not Guilty to Alleged Assault of Custody Assistant

LOS ANGELES (CNS) - An inmate accused of punching a female custody assistant five times -- an attack captured on video surveillance -- pleaded not guilty today to a felony assault charge.

Arnulfo Meza, 29, who was charged Friday with felony assault by means likely to cause great bodily injury, was ordered to return to court on May 21 for a preliminary hearing, according to a court clerk.

The attack occurred last Wednesday at the Inmate Reception Center in Chinatown after Meza's left hand was unlocked from his waist chain when he asked to use the restroom, according to a Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department statement.

The video shows a man punching the 54-year-old custody assistant three times in the face after she handed him toilet paper and twice more after she fell to the ground. The inmate sat down on a gurney as sheriff's department personnel arrived to assist the woman. He offered no resistance as he was secured to a gurney.

The woman, whose name was withheld, suffered trauma to her face and head and was treated at a hospital, according to the sheriff's statement.

Meza, who was subsequently taken to a high-security area of the Inmate Reception Center, is now being held in lieu of $105,000 bail in Twin Towers Correction Facility, according to jail records.

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