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New Los Angeles Police Brutality Case Sparks Furor - 2002-07-09


The Los Angeles community of Inglewood is reacting with anger to the beating of a teenager by police, which was caught on videotape by a bystander. Police are investigating, but the city's mayor wants the officer fired.

The furor over the tape is reminiscent of the outcry in 1991, when Los Angeles police beat an African American motorist named Rodney King. Those images were also caught on tape and broadcast around the world. This time, a 16-year-old African American, Donovan Jackson, is shown on tape as a policeman violently slams his head onto the hood of the car.

Police say they had questioned the boy's father about a minor traffic violation when the young man became belligerent and attacked them. The youngster later appeared with his lawyer to display a bloodied eye and bruised throat. Police say one officer suffered cuts on his knee, elbow and ear in the scuffle. The officer is under suspension while his department investigates.

Police say the tape does not show the start of the confrontation.

But Inglewood Mayor Roosevelt Dorn said nothing justifies the boy's mistreatment. The mayor urged that the investigation be finished quickly and that the officer be fired. He also asked the district attorney to file criminal charges. Mayor Dorn said, "This type of conduct is the type of conduct that cannot be tolerated in the United States, and especially in my city. Especially in my city."

Mayor Dorn is African American and serves a community with a large African American population. But he rejects charges by local residents who say the incident is a result of racism in the department. The mayor says that as far as he can tell, the misconduct was restricted to a single officer.

In the Rodney King case, at least four white officers were seen on tape beating a black man. The four were tried and acquitted, sparking destructive riots throughout Los Angeles. The officers were later retried by federal authorities and two were convicted and served time in prison.

Federal authorities and county prosecutors have joined the investigation into possible misconduct by police in Inglewood.

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