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Police Brutality Trial Ends in Hung Jury - 2003-07-30

A California jury was unable to reach a verdict in a police brutality case against a former officer who slammed a black teenager against his squad car. Los Angeles was quiet Tuesday after the verdict was announced, but the case re-ignited memories of civil disturbances 11 years ago.

The jury in the trial of former police officer Jeremy Morse was deadlocked, with jurors favoring conviction 7-5. Officer Morse was seen in a widely viewed amateur videotape punching a black teenager and slamming him against his police car. Mr. Morse's partner, Bijan Darvish, was found innocent of filing a false report for failing to cite the incident in his written summary.

At dispute was the question of whether former officer Morse used excessive force in subduing the young man. Mr. Morse and officer Darvish faced up to three years in prison if convicted.

The case brought back memories of the beating by police of black motorist Rodney King in 1991. After the officers were acquitted, four days of riots rocked Los Angeles, leaving 55 people dead and thousands injured.

When Tuesday's verdict was read, Judge William Hollingsworth Jr. silenced a man in the court who reacted angrily.

Los Angeles police increased patrols on the streets as the verdict was announced, but reported no violence. Outside the courthouse in the community of Inglewood, activists urged calm and held signs that said "Peace After the Verdict."

"I'm feeling very, very comfortable that our community has grown tremendously in the last 10 years," said organizer Khalid Shah.

Prosecutors say the Los Angeles district attorney will review the case of former officer Morse and decide whether to seek a retrial.