Clipped From The Los Angeles Times

jrademacher Member Photo

Clipped by jrademacher

A22 THURSDAY. APRIL 30, 1992 LOS ANGELES TIMES' i RODNEY G. KING TRIAL: THE VERDICTS VERDICT: All Four Officers Acquitted Continued from Al officers. With the jury unable to reach a consensus, a mistrial was declared on that count by Judge Stanley M.Weisberg. Except for the single deadlocked count, all four defendants, who are white, were acquitted on all counts. The unresolved count is an assault charge against Powell; prosecutors will announce May 15 whether they will retry the officer. Upon hearing the verdicts, Bri-seno who had testified that he believed his fellow officers were "out of control" when they beat and stomped King leaped to his feet and hugged his attorney. Powell and his attorney, Michael Stone, hugged each other. "I'm very happy," Powell told reporters. "But it's hard to be surprised. I felt all along that I was innocent. Now I know I'm innocent." Attorney Darryl Mounger, who defended Koon, said he believed the verdict turned on "truth." "He Koon wasn't doing anything but making an arrest." Mounger added that the trial represented a "no-win" situation for all concerned. "Nobody wins," he said. "These officers have been punished enough. Rodney King got out of jail, where he should be, and instead he's going to win a million dollars (in a civil lawsuit." As Koon left the courthouse, angry -bystanders shouted "Guilty!" and scuffled briefly with sheriff's deputies flanking the ser- LA. NIGHTMARE Scenes of the violence that followed the acquittals of officers in the Rodney G. King beating case. B2 geant. Powell was greeted by a similar crowd that hurled rocks at him as he left. The prosecutors, who had stared silently at their table during the reading of the verdicts, hung their heads and marched out of the courtroom. "My reaction is shock first, then disappointment," said Deputy Dist. Atty. Terry White, the lead prosecutor in the case. "Obviously we feel the evidence warranted a conviction of the defendants and the jury disagreed with us. " The defense strategy turned on persuading the jury that King was a combative suspect who did not comply with officers' orders. Evidently, it worked. "He refused to get out of the car," said one juror who was interviewed by The Times. "His two companions got out of the car and complied with all the orders and he just continued to fight. So the Police Department had no alternative. He was obviously a dangerous person. . . . Mr. King was controlling the whole show with his actions." Extraordinary secrecy measures surrounded the jury, which was sequestered throughout its deliberations. Members refused to talk to reporters after the verdicts were read in a packed, silent courtroom at the East County Courthouse. "This experience has been an extremely difficult and stressful one, one that we have all agonized over a great deal," said a statement prepared by the jury forewoman, a 64-year-old military contracts manager. "We feel we have done the best job we could have done." The statement was read by a court official after the jurors were whisked away in a Ventura County Sheriff's Department bus to a nearby Travelodge where they had been sequestered during their deliberations. There, they were escorted to pick up their bags, some of which had masking tape placed on tags to conceal their names and addresses. The four defendants were ac- The Rodney G.King Beating continued from previous page tuedj Snapshots off Key Who: Stanley M. Welsberg, age48 Position: Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Background: The son ' of a sheet metal worker; bom In East Los Angeles and graduated from UCLA and the UCLA School of Law. Served tor 18 years as a deputy district attorney for Los Angeles County. He was made a Municipal Court judge in 1986 and elevated to the Superior Court bench two years later. Compiled by Times researcher Cecilia Rasmussen quitted on one count of assault with a deadly weapon. All except Powell were acquitted of assault under the color of authority; the jury deadlocked 8 to 4 favoring acquittal on this count for Powell. He may face a new trial on that count. Powell and Koon were acquitted of filing a false police report. Koon also was found not guilty of acting as an accessory after the fact. King's attorney, Steve Lerman, was furious with the verdicts. "It says it's OK to beat somebody on the ground and beat the crap out of him," Lerman said. "They the jurors chose to ignore and disregard the fundamental issue: The issue of brutal, vicious felonious assault against this man. There is nothing Rodney King did to deserve this fate, and the defendants are walking out as heroes. "The fact- that maybe 12 white jurors are not going to convict four white cops, it may be as basic as that." The officers' legal troubles are not over, however. A federal civil rights investigation, which had been put on hold pending the trial's outcome, will be reactivated, U.S. Atty. Lourdes G. Baird said. Elsewhere in the country, there was a similar outpouring of anger. "I am shocked, outraged and frightened for our nation," said Joseph Lowery, president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. "We all cried and prayed for our nation. . . .Even in Johannesburg,-South Africa, they have begun to punish white officers who assault black people." Lowery planned to hold a prayer vigil at Martin Luther King Jr.'s tomb in Atlanta today. The King beating quickly became a watershed event in Los Angeles history, spawning an unprecedented move to reform the Police Department, hastening the retirement of one chief and the hiring of another and forcing this ethnically diverse city into profound introspection on the state of race relations. With tensions running high after the beating, a blue-ribbon panel was formed to investigate the Police Department. Named the Christopher Commission for its chairman, former U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Warren Christopher, the panel found a police force plagued by tacitly condoned racism and abuse at the hands of rogue cops. The commission called on Chief Daryl P. Gates to step down. After Wednesday's verdicts. Gates met with reporters at Parker Center but declined to express his opinion about the jury's verdict. "An awful lot of people will voice their opinion," Gates said. "I don't intend to." Gates directed much of his news conference to urge calm in the city. But even as he spoke, a crowd gathered in front of Parker Center. As Gates left the room, demonstrators were shouting "LAPD are rednecks! LAPD are racists!" "This may be a test," Gates said. cover vice officer after picking up a transvestite prostitute in Hollywood. May 30: A Times reporter refuses to disclose confidential source, which prompts the judge to impose a $1,500 fine. L. June 5: Passage of lit Charter Amendment 5 RrfOIIRS grants the council unprecedented power over the city's 40 commissions, including the controversy-ridden Police Commission. June It: Christopher Commission drops bid for officers' personnel files rather than allow a court representative to sit in on its closed-door deliberations. June 21: State parole board Players in the King Trial Who: Michael Stone, age 45 Position: Represents Officer Laurence M. Powell Background: Police sergeant for the city of Orange from 1972 to 1979; graduated from Western State University law school In Fullerton In 1978; police attorney for the city of Orange and general counsel for the Los Angeles Police Protective League before going into private practice In Los Angeles. Who: John D. Bamett, age 44 Position: Represents Officer Theodore J. Briseno Background: Graduated from the San Francisco University School of Law In 1973; served a five-year stint in the Orange County public defender's office before going Into private practice with a reputation as an expert trial attorney. Public, Parochial Classes Canceled By RICH CONNELL TIMES STAFF WRITER Classes were canceled today for thousands of students attending dozens of schools operated by the Los Angeles Unified School District, the Compton Unified School District and the Los Angeles Archdiocese because of fears for the safety of children, school officials said. All campuses were shut down in 30-square-mile area bordered on the north by Adams Boulevard, on the west by La Cienega Boulevard, on the south by Imperial Highway and the east by Alameda Street, Warren Furatani, president of the Los Angeles Unified School District board said late Wednesday. The archdiocese closed schools in the same vicinity between Central Avenue and La Cienega. All schools in the Compton district were shut down. Los Angeles school officials were monitoring the spread of the violence to determine if more "I believe people will meet that test." Later, as violence spread through parts of the city, Gates activated the LAPD Emergency Command Center, canceled police leaves and declared a permanent alert. Gates' designated successor, Philadelphia Police Commissioner Willie L. Williams, who is black, was monitoring the riots on television at his Philadelphia home. "The outbursts by these people are certainly in no way helping the healing process. It's making it very difficult for those people who were trying to take this court decision and make changes. "It's a no-win situation, everything that occurred in the last few hours, the rioting, the fires, the shooting death. "They are going to solidify the views of those people who are not wanting to see things smoothed over, but want them further divided." He declined to comment on the LAPD's tactics of holding back during the early stages of the rioting, but said he will review it when he takes office in several weeks. He also said he will consult with Los Angeles officials today to see if he could play any role in calming the situation. "Tactically," Williams told The Times, "it's probably one of the most crucial times in the history of the Police Department one of the most crucial, precarious times in Chief Gates' career and mine." Legal experts said the jurors may have reached the verdicts based on their fears of crime and pre-existing attitudes favoring police officers. The key factor, they agreed, was the change of venue granted to the defense. Moving the trial out of Los Angeles County to more conservative and less racially diverse Simi Valley produced a jury disposed to siding with police, the decides not to charge King with a parole violation in connection with his1 arrest May 28. June 22: Two-day summit meeting involving the U.S. Justice Department, 20 Los Angeles County police chiefs and 60 minority community representatives produces agreement to form a permanent working group to tackle issues aggravating police-minority relations. June 24: King sells option to a film company to make a movie. June 25: Police Protective League official advises officers to be less aggressive on the streets to protect their careers. June 26: Damage claim of $83 million filed by King and his wife ' 1 IM!lM.MJ.imlM I Who: Paul OePasquale, age 46 Position: Represents Timothy E. Wind Background: Graduated from Boalt Hall school of law at UC Berkeley. Specializes In police law, civil rights litigation and criminal defense law. closures might be necessary. Also late Wednesday, the Southern California Rapid Transit District announced that it was canceling bus service because of the violence. "The safety of the kids is most important," Furatani said. "We have a lot of children traveling on school buses, picking up students, carrying them to different parts of the city and traveling on freeways," some of which had been shut down. He said the cancellation of RTD bus service also would have meant that many students would be walking to classes in the areas where there had been disturbances. Furatani appealed to the thousands of young people whose schools were closed to remain home and off the streets. He said the district was preparing to provide counseling and discussion groups about the Rodney G. King verdict and the rioting to students throughout the city, especially in the areas most affected. experts said. The six-man, six-woman jury included one Latina and one Asian-American. Only a handful of blacks were present in the original jury pool. The four officers' defense attorneys had sought to portray King as a hard-to-handle suspect who made the officers fear for their lives. A convicted felon on parole, King was drunk the night he led police on a high-speed chase through the streets of Los Angeles County until stopping in Lake View Terrace. There, he was ordered out of his car, and the beating followed. "I tried to put them in the shoes of the police officers," said Stone, "and I think I was able to do that. We got the jurors to look at the case not from the eye of the camera or the eye of a video cameraman, but from the eyes of the officers who were out there that night." Powell is the officer seen leveling most of the blows at King, who was swung at more than 50 times and stung by an electrical Taser gun. In speaking to reporters, Powell directed some of his wrath at Gates. "He should have backed us up," Powell said. "He should have backed up his policies," but the verdicts "show that he was wrong." The jury heard 29 days of testimony from 55 witnesses and was shown the videotape on numerous occasions. King did not testify at the trial. In an interview with the district attorney's office four months after the beating, he said he "saw death in Powell's eyes" and was certain he would be killed by officers who beat him furiously and repeatedly called him "nigger." Throughout Los Angeles on Wednesday, residents who sat glued to their television sets to watch the delivering of the verdicts expressed astonishment. "The jury apparently didn't see is rejected by the city, clearing the path to seek damages in court. June 29: Freddie Helms, a passenger with King on the night of the beating, is killed in car crash. July 2: Police Commission orders Gates to make sweeping changes in handling misconduct allegations. Tift CnlntlrJI' j Christopher RjOfft Commission report is released suggesting Gates step down. Police Commissioners Lomax and Williams resign after the Christopher Commission suggested that the entire Police Commission should step down. July 10: Gates strips Assistant si Who: Darryl Mounger, age 46 Position: Represents Sgt. StaceyC. Koon Background: Former LAPO sergeant with almost 10 years experience as a defense representative for police officers in Board of Rights hearings. Graduated from Southwestern University School of Law in Los Angeles in 1989 and Immediately began private , practice, specializing In criminal, labor and administrative law. Who: Terry White. 35 Position: Deputy district attorney and lead prosecutor Background: Graduated from UCLA School of Law in 1 984 and Immediately joined the the district attorney's office. In 199 1 , joined the office's Special Investigation Division, which Is responsible for Investigating public officials, sheriff's deputies and police officers. and hear the same trial I heard," said Inglewood resident Terry Coleman, 49, a former police officer who estimates that he saw 95 of the trial on television. "The Verdict's just as racist as what happened that night. I'm ashamed to be from Los Angeles. I'm happy I don't have a uniform anymore. "I feel like I did when I heard that Martin Luther King died," added Coleman, who is black. "I felt each of those not guiltys each one of them." A white bus driver in the San Fernando Valley, who asked that his name not be used, had a similar reaction. "It's the worst thing that has happened in this nation since Kennedy was shot in '63," he said. "Those guys are as guilty as guilty can be. There ain't a one of them that ain't guilty." At the Lake View Terrace spot where the beating took place, about 100 people gathered to vent their rage, peacefully but forcefully. "The verdict is very wrong," said Russell Baldwin, who is black. "They had it on tape. It showed the cops were wrong. . . . The verdict makes us open targets for police. . . . Who are we supposed to call for protection now?" ' ''"Phis shows you can't trust the A justice system," said Anthony Ellis, another protester. "What is justice? What kind of example do we have to show our kids?" Although some police officers were surprised by the trial's outcome, many expressed satisfaction. William Frio, spokesman for the LAPD, said he was shocked but saw a positive side. "We're a very professional department," he said, "and I think this verdict somewhat vindicates the department" "I didn't hear any whoops of cheering, there wasn't anyone jumping for joy," said James S. Chief David D. Dotson of his command after he complained openly of the chief's record in disciplining officers. July 11: Gates tells two members of the City Council that he will leave his post at the end of the year. Jury 15: The City Council's Public Safety Committee begins hearings on reform proposals contained in the Christopher Commission report. Defense files request to remove Judge Bernard J. Kamins from the case. July 16: Police Commission orders Gates to reinstate Dotson as head of the Internal Affairs division. Who: AlanS. Yochelson, 37 PosfUon: Deputy district attorney and co-prosecutor Background: Graduated from Southwestern University School of Law In 1980; Joined the Los Angeles County district attorney's office In 1981, and was assigned as co-prosecutor in the Night Stalker case from 1987 to 1990. Ellis, a detective in the depart ' ment's Pacific Division. j "We've definitely been slimjj. ! We've been slimed," Ellis said. "There's a lot of open disrespect for ! law enforcement. It's police-bash ; ing to its extreme. It's the vogu '. thing to do." S Bill Violante, president of the Police Protective League, said that ! although the acquittals were "a ' victory for these four LAPD off i- ; cers . . . this verdict should not be interpreted as approval of the i manner in which the arrest of ; Rodney King occurred." j Now, he said, the union intends to call on the mayor and the Clfy , Council to reinstate the use of thfe ; controversial carotid hold, which ; was stricken from police policy, i leaving officers in the field with ! few basic tools beyond "the side; ! handled baton." i "It is incumbent upon city offir ' cials to come up with another tpol : so that we do not have othel- , similar incidents with the use of a side-handled baton," Violante said. : Throughout the three-month trial, defense attorneys had maneuvered to keep the issue of race out of the trial. But when Powell was on the stand, his attorney, Stone, inadvertently asked him about police computer messages he' : had sent before the beating, opening the door for prosecutor Whit"1 to quiz the officer about computer'"' messages he sent 20 minutes before the beating. In one of those messages, Powell"' told a fellow officer about an'" earlier incident involving a dispute': among a black family that Powell described as "right out of 'Gorillas" in the Mist'" " White grilled Powell about thd " message. But on the stand, he " sought to maintain that he did not"J consider the message to be racist.-' Nevertheless, White told the jury " in his closing summation that the' 1 message was "clearly racially mo-' tivated." Another trial strategy involved ' Briseno, who, to the surprise' of ! many, mounted a separate defense' ;; and said he tried to stop the ' beating. On the stand, Briseno testified" ' that he tried to push Powell's baton ' away. He said he only "placed his':', foot" on King in an attempt to make the motorist lie still so Pow- ell and Wind would put away their " batons. He said he later tried to " report to police supervisors that " the other three officers had used excessive force on King. Briseno did not speak to report- u ers Wednesday, but Powell was asked if his assertions had caused a. permanent rift. . .r! Powell said: "I congratulated him after this. I have no animosi-" -. ty." Wind, who was on probation at .,i the time of the beating, was fired,.:; soon thereafter. The other officers,-. suspended without pay since the incident, now face internal Police, Department hearings. Koon's is;." scheduled for next week before an LAPD administrative tribunal. ,,; E3 July 19: Judge Kamins refuses to. -quit case. July 22: In a video played at , , rr police roll calls, Gates announces", April, 1992, date for retirement.': Tjjj Jury 23: State appeals court orders trial of officers out of the county because of publicity and sui political fallout. . July 26: King cleared o'n felony assault charges for allegedly ' " ' ' attempting to run over an under, cover police officer on May 28. ' w July 29: Six LAPD officers whtji'""'. were among 19 present during the King beating are taken off duty ' without pay. ' '"'. Aug. 7: Police Department off i -" " ' cials begin interviewing more Tr: than 100 officers who allegedly :' . -k -

Clipped from
  1. The Los Angeles Times,
  2. 30 Apr 1992, Thu,
  3. Page 22

jrademacher Member Photo

Want to comment on this Clipping? Sign up for a free account, or sign in