The Los Angeles Times from Los Angeles, California on August 23, 1996 · Page 43
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The Los Angeles Times from Los Angeles, California · Page 43

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Friday, August 23, 1996
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LOS ANGELES TIMES FRIDAY, AUGUST 23, 1996 D3 . ; METRO NEWS Man Wins Battle With City Oyer Kennedy Assassination Photos Courts: He is awarded $450,600. Pictures of murder of Robert Kennedy were confiscated by LAPD and lost. By CARLA RIVERA TIMES STAFF WRITER A Los Angeles man was awarded ' $450,600 Thursday by a Superior Court jury that found the city negligent for failing to return photographs that police confiscated after the assassination of Robert F. Kennedy. The verdict was a vindication for Jamie Scott Enyart, 43, a Hollywood special effects artist, who ' called his eight-year struggle for , compensation a classic match of "David versus Goliath." "I am absolutely thrilled," said Enyart, who was 15 and on assignment for his Fairfax High School newspaper June 5, 1968, when Kennedy, seeking the Democratic presidential nomination, was shot to death in the Ambassador Hotel pantry by Sirhan B. Sirhan. In a case laced with historical and haunting memories, Enyart had claimed for years that as a teenager he stood atop a table and captured the moment when Kennedy was shot. Enyart said he took three rolls of film, capturing scenes of the senator falling and the pandemonium that followed, but that the film was taken by police. He sued for $2 million, alleging that the city either lost or destroyed his valuable historical documents and then tried to cover up its deeds. City lawyers had accused Enyart of trying to make money off the tragedy. They maintained that Enyart had been at the Ambassador but had taken only one roll of film and could not have captured the pivotal seconds of the assassination because he was not in the pantry where Kennedy was shot. "They took my film and they took it at gunpoint," Enyart said after the verdict. "They promised that they would give it back and . . . asked me to wait for 20 years. I behaved as a good citizen and obeyed the law and . . I was punished." The verdict was yet another blow to the credibility of the Los Angeles Police Department, as a jury accepted accusations that its handling of Enyart, his photographs and the entire case was, at the very least, incompetent. "We definitely thought the city and police screwed up all the way through,", said jury foreman Dorsey Caldwell. The panel, which found the city and one of its police officers liable for negligence, awarded Enyart $299,700 in damages, $100,800 for the eight years he spent pursuing his film and $50,100 for the alleged destruetion of his negatives. Louis "Skip" Miller, a private attorney hired by the city at $225 an hour to handle the case, wa3 tight-lipped after the decision, saying only that lawyers will decide later whether to appeal. Miller had moved for a mistrial before the verdict was read, alleging juror misconduct and coercion. Superior Court Commissioner Emilie H. Elias, who presided over the trial, denied the motion. But Miller indicated that those allegations made by an excused juror who had been the panel's foreman would be pursued. On Monday, Elias said Miller may have acted inappropriately by talking to the excused juror and said she would report his actions to the State Bar. Enyart says his photos would have answered key questions about the assassination: from which direction the shots were fired and whether there was more than one gunman. In the weeks following the slaying, investigators confiscated all known photos and film they could find from that night, including Enyart's. He later learned that the case files would be sealed for 20 years. In 1988, when Enyart had begun a book on the assassination and requested the photos, the city said it had lost them. KARATE n, if ' ;. - s i f , . 1 v ; ; BOB CH AMBERL1N Los Angeles Times Karate student Joseph Thomas, 8, right, spars with a partner. Continued from Bl "Karate helps me work harder on my schoolwork. And the sifu teaches me about not fighting (in school! and stuff." Twice a week at the school, three instructors including one officer put their young charges through a grueling, hourlong routine of sweat-popping physical conditioning before beginning the karate drills. Despite the grimaces and strains to do just one more set of sit-ups, most of the youngsters say they can't wait to get to class. Los Angeles Police Officer Richard Dixon, one of the school's black-belt instructors, is assigned full time to the 77th Street station's Jeopardy program. He said martial arts classes that began with about 30 students two years ago now have more than 300 youngsters between 8 and 17 in the LAPD's South Bureau. And his bulging waiting list con-" tinues toswellas the department seeks more financial support to expand the program. Jeopardy also offers counseling, tutoring and classes in drama and dance. But for many youngsters, karate is the carrot. "We get kids who can't read and write," Dixon said. "So we have tutoring. In the first martial arts class, they learn to read and write. Then they go to the second class." On Sunday, several will compete in the huge Law Enforcement Youth Martial Arts Tournament at he Los Angeles Sports Arena, with about 1,000 contestants from other law enforcement programs. "They will be competing against some kids who pay up to $80 a month for karate," Dixon said. "We want our kids to have a chance to show off." Jeopardy is privately sponsored by different organizations. Students receive free uniforms and gear but must maintain their grades and stay out of trouble in school to remain eligible. When the program was launched, some officers assigned to patrol openly questioned it, Dixon said, wondering if Dixon and his instructors were training tough kids to do combat with police officers. But those skeptics have been won over, for the most part, Dixon said, and he doesn't get reports from patrol officers about Jeopardy youngsters getting into trouble. Parents have embraced the program as a way of keeping their children out of trouble. Diana Guzman said her son Carlos, 9, "used to act real bad at home and at school. Before he got into Jeopardy, he used to fight a lot." Carlos had to be practically forced to stay in the program, said Lee Proctor, another kajukenbo black belt who teaches at 75th Street School. "We made him work out; we made him fight," Proctor said. "He stuck it out, and we told him: 'Good job.' " Proctor said he and the other karate instructors rediscover a basic truth about youngsters at every class: "A kid knows when you really care and when you're fake," he said. And when adults care, he said, little miracles begin to take place. Tammie Thomas has seen her niece and three nephews change in the program. "Instead of hanging out on the streets, they are more into practicing their karate skills," she said. "And they know they have to maintain their grades." Dixon has also seen other changes, such as in the brash, young boys who drop their macho facades when they find out that some girls in the class can outfight them. Or the youngster who shows up with the reputation as a neighborhood bully, only to be exposed in the karate ring as someone who can't fight, Dixon said. The swaggerer and the bully learn self-control, self-respect and respect for others, Dixon said. And the payoff from the lessons, while sometimes hard to measure, continue over a lifetime, he said. Keiry Santos discovered self-esteem that surprised her instructors. I "When she first came into the program, she didn't even want to fight," said Proctor. "We almost had to force her." Last month, after only seven months of studying karate, Santos, 14. took first place in a prestigious international karate tournament in Long Beach the . first tournament she had ever entered. "Karate has made a difference," said Santos, a freshman at Belmont High School. "I have a hobby now, something that I like and that I'm good at. I didn't expect to win at my very first tournament." Proctor, 32, sees the progress Keiry has made and worries about how many like her are stuck on the Jeopardy waiting list. "I'm a sucker for kids," he said. "It's hard for me to look a kid in the face, know he wants to try, and not let him in the program." Proctor remembers growing up in Compton and wrestling with the same choices his students are weighing. "Most of my kids are right on the borderline," he said. "They will either idolize the big, tough gangbanger or a big, cool martial artist. I was hanging around the wrong people in Compton. My mom stuck me in karate class. The older kids there seemed a little cooler than the gangbangers I knew." - J A - 1- - 7 11 0 0 ... " . . ' : V-k-. V LOR1SHBPLER LtM Angeles Times Charles McMackin talks to reporters in restaurant parking lot where his wife was shot Wednesday. Purse-Snatcher Sought in Slaying Crime: Woman is fatally Shot OUtside Simms said- "She was always a happy person, a , strong person and I know she fought to the end. BellHOWer restaurant as Second gunman That, police said, might have been her undoing. Steals $1 from disabled husband. 9RThe McM. who would have been married 26 years on Tuesday, had gone to Norm s probably a thousand times, her husband said. They parked in the first parking stall, a handicapped slot, because Charles McMackin's bad knees, hips and back force him to use two canes. At dinner, Charles McMackin used all the money he had to pay for the meal except for one dollar. The couple, parents of one son and one daughter, left the restaurant shortly after 9 p.m. Sheila McMackin got to the car ahead of her husband, Charles McMackin said, and got in the passenger side. Moving gingerly with his canes, Charles McMackin said, he remembered looking down to check the placement of his walking aids and then looking up to see what he thought was someone asking his wife for directions. But then he saw the man reaching into the car, and became alarmed. "I'm yelling at him, 'Hey! Get away from the car!'" McMackin said, and then he felt a gun against his head and heard the demand for money. He handed it over and looked up just in time to see a flash and hear a shot. The two men walked a few feet and then sprinted away, he said. "I can't run," Charles McMackin said. "I walked to her, I got in the right side of the car and I told her to hold on." Charles McMackin said he got into the driver's seat as quickly as he could and drove his wife to nearby Lakewood Regional Medical Center, where she died from a gunshot to her upper body, authorities said. Sheriff's deputies described the men as between the ages of 17 and 25, white or Latino, 5 feet 7 to 5 feet 9, 130-150 pounds with dark hair and dark complexions. Charles McMackin pleaded for the public's help in finding the men who killed his wife. By ABIGAIL GOLDMAN and JOHN COX SPECIAL TO THE TIMES A gunman fought a 46-year-old woman for her purse outside Norm's restaurant in Bellflower and when she wouldn't give it up, shot and killed her while her disabled husband helplessly looked on, police said Thursday. Sheila McMackin of Bellflower was pronounced dead at a hospital just before 11 p.m. Wednesday. Her husband, Charles McMackin, 55, was held at bay by a second robber who made off with the $1 in his wallet. Charles McMackin was not injured and the gunmen were still at large Thursday. On Thursday, McMackin, along with 27-year-old daughter Sheila Simms and 10-year- old granddaughter Jennifer Miller, returned to Norm's. While mostly oblivious lunch-rush diners came and went through the same door McMackin and his wife had used the night before, her family placed a bouquet of red carnations in the handicapped parking space where she battled a robber and lost. "I put those down in memory of my mother," 'S .. . J f . X Sheila McMackin CHURCH Continued from Bl church two years ago to name a nearby street after its leader. "I don't think it's appropriate." But believers say that opponents miss the point. "I think it's a fabulous idea," said Patricia Castelli, who manages a boardinghouse for church students across the street from the complex of blue buildings. "He should be remembered for all that he's done to help people. He's given everybody a road to freedom." Scientology has weathered controversy practically since its inception in 1954. Critics accuse the church of being a high-pressure business masquerading as a religion. Yet the church has no shortage of celebrity defenders, including Tom Cruise, Priscilla Presley and John Travolta. The name change sailed through the City Council's Public Works Committee with barely a wink Wednesday despite a report by a city engineer that said it violates a city policy that recommends against changing the names of portions of streets. The committee's chairman, Councilman Richard Alarcon, said he gave the matter little thought, approving the name change as a routine item partly because Council President John Ferraro, who represents the area, has endorsed the idea. A spokeswoman for Ferraro said the councilman favored the change because of the broad support in the immediate neighborhood, which is home to many Arabs Picket Disney, Cite Insults in Films By JOHN DART TIMES STAFF WRITER Arab American leaders demonstrated Thursday outside the Walt Disney studio against two Disney films that the protesters said contain insults to Arabs. The entertainment giant, the protesters said, broke a 1993 agreement to confer with them to prevent stereotypical portrayals of Arabs. The protesters stopped short of calling for an Arab American boycott of Disney, as conservative Protestant groups recently did on other issues. But Don Bustany, spokesman for the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, told a curbside news conference that Muslim groups based in Washington have asked foreign countries with large Islamic populations to boycott Disney products until the company "stops doing what it is doing to Arabs." Disney officials declined to comment Thursday. Bustany and other Arab American leaders objected to an assortment of villainous Arabic-like characters in "Kazaam," starring Shaquille O'Neal, and a nasty, sharp-dealing neighbor named Habib in last year's "The Father of the Bride, Part II." "They should show that not all Arabs are villains," said Monir Deeb, president of the committee's Los Angeles chapter. "There should be a balance." The villains in "Kazaam" include a black marketeer named Malik the Arabic word for "owner" the protesters said. "I don't think there is a deliberate attempt to harm Arab Americans," Bustany said. "But I believe there are people who harbor less -than -positive feelings about Arabs in general, and if they get a chance to slam Arabs, they will do that just as it happened for decades against black Americans, Asian Americans, and American Indians." The committee members were particularly offended, Bustany said, by what the members regarded as a breach by Disney executives of an oral promise in June 1993 to consult with them about any projects involving Arabs, following a protest against the animated musical"Aladdin." "If they deny that they made such an agreement, then why has the TV animation division been operating under the agreement with us very constructively and very amiably?" he said. As evidence of such an understanding, Bustany said that on Feb. 29, in one of many letters he sent to Disney Chairman Michael Eisner, he noted that Disney officials accepted the committee's suggestions in the . television version of "Aladdin" and in the script for a spinoff film, "Aladdin and the King of Thieves." church members. After receiving the church's petition, the city distributed notices of the proposed name change to neighborhood residents. Of 192 letters received in response, 183 supported the change, only nine opposed it. The proposal will go before the City Council in about two weeks. News of the name change began to circulate through the church grounds Thursday. Members cheered and said the honor was long overdue. "He did so much for the city. I have seen many miracles getting people off drugs, cleaning up neighborhoods," Marcello Segal, 38, said of Hubbard, who died in 1986. Still, longtime Scientology critics such as Priscilla Coates see it differently. "Hubbard certainly wasn't any Martin Luther King." Coates said. "Everything that he said and wrote and spoke is considered sacred scripture. I consider it unintelligible." Some businesses in the vicinity said they did not mind the change. They said that the church's presence has helped clean up a community that otherwise would have been overrun by graffiti and crime. And its thousands of adherents shop in local stores. "We survive on the church," said Flint Hutchinson, a clerk at a convenience store. "It's a good little economy source. So if they want to make that slight change, why stop them?" But other business people questioned why the city ' wouldn't name the street after others more deserving. "Why haven't they named it Bill Clinton Street or Ronald McDonald Way?" asked one business owner.- ! PHARMACY Continued from Bl day that they could see the closing coming, they greeted the news with tears and sadness. "The letter made me cry," said Lee Ostendorf, an oil company consultant who has been a regular customer at the pharmacy for the 30 years she has lived in Naples. She says she drops in several times a week just to chat or pick up a postcard. "It's real hard for a lot of people to take," she said. "They are like family." In a county of strangers, Naples, an island in Alamitos Bay with 1,600 residences, prides itself on being a place where everyone knows everyone else. And the two pharmacists and their staff, a number of them local teenagers, were among the most popular. Even though Dahlin and Wolter are moving less than a mile down 2nd Street, a distance barely noticeable in most parts of Los Angeles County, to some residents of Naples it crosses a boundary into a busier, more commercial area that's just not the same. "Everybody is rather upset that the pharmacy is going," said Stan Poe, who has written a history of the island, which is perhaps best known for the annual Christmas boat parade that winds through its canals. "Naples has always been pretty much its own community." In recent years, several other small businesses run by well-known local proprietors have closed. Perhaps the most popular was Zietan's, a small grocery store that went out of business about five years ago. The site of Zietan's was cleared for the construction of luxury homes. Like the pharmacy, the small grocery store extended credit to local residents, did business on a first-name basis and was a clearinghouse for community gossip. "People here like to say you couldn't go to the grocery store or pharmacy and get out in less than two hours," Poe said. Poe's wife, Maureen, a special education teacher at a school in Palos Verdes Estates, said the pharmacy reminded her of her small hometown in Michigan. "When I moved out here in 1978, I was overwhelmed by the size of the communities," she said. "Here it's like a small town. People recognize you, they talk to you, they really care about you, and that is what the pharmacy is all about. At some places around here, you think you could shop there for 20 years and you'd never be more than an empty face. Not at the pharmacy." On Thursday, the morning after the letter arrived notifying customers that the business would close its doors Sept. 1 and that Dahlin and Wolter would be moving to Belmont Shore, the regulars came by to express their condolences. "It's change," said Bill Newmeyer, 74, a freelance cartoonist. "I don't think change is always -for the better."

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