No criminal charges in LA police beating

By Sinclere Lee

LOS ANGELES, California (BNW) –
It is common all across this county for the police to brutalize Blacks in the name of law enforcement. The problem is that white people see no problem with the cops brutalizing the whole Black community to enforce the law against a few criminals in the Black community.

A police officer who was videotaped beating an auto theft suspect with a heavy flashlight -- a case that evoked comparisons to the Rodney King beating -- will not face criminal charges, prosecutors announced.

The district attorney's office spent five months reviewing the incident, in which Officer John Hatfield struck Stanley Miller 11 times with a 2-pound steel flashlight after a June 23 car-and-foot chase.

"We cannot establish beyond a reasonable doubt that Officer Hatfield's actions were without legal necessity," Deputy District Attorney Margo Baxter said in a report released Thursday.

Miller, who is black, was beaten on the ground after he appeared to have surrendered. Hatfield, who is Hispanic, ran up and joined other officers who had pushed Miller down.

"Miller had led officers on a high-speed ... pursuit in a recently stolen car and failed to comply with orders to stop and show his hands," the report said. "Miller's furtive movements during the chase led officer to believe he might be arming himself."

The June 23 beating, videotaped by television news helicopters, drew comparisons to the 1991 videotaped beating of black motorist Rodney King, and black community leaders and Mayor James Hahn said they were disappointed by the district attorney's decision not to prosecute.

"I do not agree with that decision. I saw what you saw," Hahn said.

The decision "points out the regrettable reality that all too often in this community we have to deal with a double standard in justice," said John Mack, president of the Los Angeles Urban League.

Hatfield and eight other officers involved in the pursuit and arrest remain under LAPD scrutiny. All remain on the payroll, although six have been suspended from active duty.

Police Chief William Bratton called tactics used by officers during the incident "awful ... very disturbing" but said he had not made a judgment on the conduct of individual officers.

The chief said the department would move swiftly with its investigation, which could end in reprimand, suspension or dismissal of officers if wrongdoing is found.

Miller, 37, was sentenced in December to three years in state prison after pleading guilty to unlawful driving or taking of a vehicle and evading police.

He has filed a $25 million claim against the city, saying he suffered brain damage and other injuries in the arrest.

However, the district attorney's report concluded that "there is an absence of credible evidence to support Miller's contention that he was hit in the head with the flashlight."

The incident began with a police pursuit of a stolen Toyota. During the chase, according to the district attorney's report, Hatfield's partner radioed that the suspect was reaching for something under the car seat.

Another officer who grappled with Miller said he saw a small bulge in Miller's waistband and shouted "gun" during the melee, according to the report.

No gun was found.

LAPD: Police killing of teen investigated

An investigation has been launched into the fatal shooting by police of a 13-year-old boy who was fleeing authorities in a stolen car, a police spokeswoman said Sunday.

The chase began in south Los Angeles about 3:50 a.m. Sunday, when officers saw a car being driven erratically and thought the driver might be under the influence of drugs or alcohol, spokeswoman Kristi Sandoval said.

The pursuit ended when the 13-year-old driver stopped the car and his passenger, a 14-year-old boy, got out of the vehicle and ran, Sandoval said.

Both boys had gang connections, she said.

The spokeswoman said the car, which turned out to have been stolen, collided with the police vehicle, but that it was not clear what led to the shooting.

An investigation is ongoing, she said.

The 14-year-old boy was arrested, she said.

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