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PC Persecution versus Prosecution: Media sensationalism trumps facts and due process!

Discussion in 'Issues Around the World' started by Jedi Writer, Dec 9, 2002.

  1. Jedi Writer

    Jedi Writer Guest

    The infamous Rodney King saga and all of its aftermath is now in the distant past. All of the litigation is over, the two police officer convicted of violating Mr. King's rights have served their prison sentences, and the City of Los Angles has fully recovered from the effects of the riots and fires. With the passage of time, the passionate emotions that fueled those unfortunate events have waned. Now is a good time to look back and analyze the events of the saga that has become a national legend.

    Most people's views on King's altercation with police generally fall into one of two categories. The most prevalent view is the police, without justification, motivated by anger, frustration, and racism, brutally beat and abused Mr. King in retaliation for his lack of cooperation. As a result, he suffered permanent, serious, physical and psychological injuries.

    The less prevalent view is Rodney King was a muscle-bound ex-convict on probation, which, while under the influence of drugs, led police on a high-speed reckless and dangerous chase. When he was finally stopped, he resisted arrest and behaved in such a way that police thought he was under the influence of the drug PCP. They used the force necessary to subdue him.

    The following was derived from the Los Angeles District Attorney's investigation of the incident; opening and closing arguments by the prosecution in the State trial; testimony and statements of witnesses; the U.S. Department of Justice investigation; the enhanced video-tape; medical and public records:

    King's car was traveling on the Foothill Freeway one night, when it passed a California Highway Patrol, (CHP), car occupied by the husband and wife team of officers Melanie and Tim Singer. They estimated King's speed as in excess of 100 mph. The following is a synopsis of that nights events:

    Melanie Singer accelerates to the maximum speed indicated by her speedometer, 115mph. At first she is unable to close the gap between her car and Rodney King's. Eventually, King's car slows when it gets into heavier traffic. The Singer's patrol car closes to within several car lengths. Both cars are traveling at 80 mph.

    Melanie Singer turns on her car's lights and sirens. King responds by cutting across three lanes of traffic at 80 mph, and exits at the Paxton Avenue off ramp. The ramp ends with a stop sign and a blind curve to the right. King runs the stop sign and turns left onto Paxton, with the CHP unit, its lights and siren still on, in pursuit. Rodney King demonstrates he has no intention of stopping for anybody.

    King then drives his car on various city streets, running stop signs and red lights. A LAPD helicopter and other police units join in the chase. One of the two passengers in King's car is a long-time friend. He continually pleads with King to stop the car. King ignores him. His friend would later testify in court that King was acting so strangely that he considered jumping out of the car, but could not because of the speed. King finally stops after 7.8 miles of police pursuit.

    He does not stop because of choice; he stops because he has nowhere to go. The road he is on has ended at an entrance to a recreation area. The entrance is closed, and King cannot back up because of the Singers patrol car.

    The Singers get out of their car with their guns drawn. A LAPD helicopter arrives overhead and illuminates the scene with its spotlight. A LAPD black and white unit arrives. The two LAPD officers get out of their car with guns drawn. King can see all of this. Tim Singer uses his patrol car's loudspeaker in an attempt to order the three occupants of King's car to get out. He is hindered by the noise of the helicopter, and the siren on another police car. "Get out of the vehicle. Hands up. Get on your stomach. Put your hands behind your back. Now! Move it!" Unfortunately, Officer Singer's microphone is picking up his commands and causing a shrill feedback. The siren is turned off and Singer tries again, ordering the driver, King, to get out of the car. There is no response. The stress level of everyone is continuing to rise. Nobody knows whom Rodney King is or what he is going to do now that he is trapped.

    Singer orders the two passengers to get out of the car and to lie down in a prone position. Both do, and they are handcuffed without incident on the passenger side of King's car. They do not see any of what follows.

    Singer again orders King to get out of the car and to lie down in a prone position. King finally responds and gets out of the car. However, instead of getting down on the ground, he dances around, waves at the helicopter, and reaches into his pockets.

    While he is doing this, there are eight police officers with their guns drawn and pointed at him. Singer again orders him to get down on the ground with his hands behind his back. King, who is 6'2", 225 lbs. and clearly heavily muscled, ignores the orders. Despite the fact that it is a cold evening and King is wearing only a T-shirt on his upper body, he is visibly sweating.

    He eventually gets down on his hands and knees. LAPD Sergeant Koon arrives as this happens. King continues to ignore any commands given to him and goes from resting on all fours, to a position similar to the one used by football linemen.

    Melanie Singer advances on King with her gun drawn, ordering him to show his hands. He ignores her command and turns his back on her. She walks to within several feet of King, still pointing her gun at him. King continues to ignore her. Koon orders her to stop and tells her that LAPD will handle the situation. Since he is the ranking officer at the scene, she obeys.

    Koon then orders all of the police officers to put their guns away. There are now four LAPD officers, other then Koon present at the scene. Officers Powell, Solano, Wind, and Briseno. Koon orders them to surround King, in preparation for initiating what is known as the swarm technique. The four officers are to rush King with each grabbing one of his arms or legs. Koon orders them to desist if King resists.

    The officers swarm King. They grab his arms and legs, and King goes face down into the asphalt. Twisting and struggling King throws the four officers off, who despite their numbers are unable to contain him. Koon shouts to King: "Get down. Lay on the ground. Get your hands behind your back! Do it now or I'll tase you!"

    King ignores Koon's commands and begins to rise. Koon fires the taser and the darts stick to Rodney King. The taser begins to discharge 50,000 volts of electricity into him. He groans and sags to his knees. Then he begins to rise. Rodney King has overcome 50,000 volts.

    Koon again shouts to King: "Get down or you're going to get tased!" King ignores the order and Koon tases him again. Once again King groans and sinks to all fours. He begins to rise again.

    All of this happens before the famous videotape of the beating. It is at this point that George Holliday begins his videotaping. King fully rises, and with his arms outstretched rushes towards officer Powell and they collide. Powell unleashes a series of stokes with his metal baton at Rodney King. King is struck in the upper body by the baton and falls to the ground face first.

    With rare exception, television stations edit this part of the video out of what they broadcast to the public. Most of the public never sees it. What the stations do broadcast begins as follows: King immediately begins to rise again and Powell continues to strike him with his baton. Koon orders King to lie down. When he does not comply, Koon orders officer Wind to assist Powell in using baton strikes to get King to comply with Koon's commands to lie down and not to move.

    Officer Briseno joins Powell and Wind in striking King with batons. Eventually, King raises his hands and says: "Please stop". He has been struck 33 times. He is not struck again.

    However, still he refuses to lie down as ordered. Koon orders another swarm. This time a total of eight officers swarm King, and for the third time his face strikes the asphalt. He is then double handcuffed and his ankles tied to his wrists by nylon rope.

    The first person to administer medical treatment to King is a paramedic. She examines King and decides that his injuries are "minor". King appears coherent, orientated, and alert. He does not appear to be in any pain or distress. She assumes that King's head injuries had been caused when he struck the ground because the abrasions and blood on his face were intermixed with dirt. During the paramedic's examination and treatment, King is continually spitting, cursing, and fighting his restraints.

    The paramedic decides because of King's "minor injuries", he did not require transport to a trauma center. Therefore, he is sent by ambulance to Pacifica hospital for treatment. During the entire ambulance trip to the hospital, King is combative and does not exhibit any signs of pain or incoherence.

    The treating physician at Pacifica diagnoses King's injuries as: five superficial lacerations requiring sutures, a nose bleed, bruises on his scalp, chest, back, and legs. The physician also diagnoses King as suffering from PCP intoxication. King's diagnosed condition on his emergency room records from Pacifica Hospital is "(1) PCP overdose/ (2) facial lacerations, superficial."

    King is then transferred to the jail ward of the USC Medical Center. He is sent to that specific location because it is the only medical ward that will accept prisoners who are suspected of being under the influence of PCP.

    A physician examines Mr. King when he arrives at the USC medical center. The doctor essentially concurs with the Pacifica's physician's diagnosis. Neither physician detects any evidence that King has suffered any neurological or brain injury.

    Additional tests and X-rays are ordered. Along with further examinations they reveal that King has suffered a fractured cheekbone, and a hairline fracture of the leg. The leg fracture was so slight that the initial X-ray did not detect it. King's leg is placed in a cast to insure proper healing. The cheekbone fracture is not treated because usually it is a self-healing injury. (Subsequently, it did not heal properly and surgery was required.) King's alcohol blood level is measured at 0.19 percent. This is hours after his arrest. PCP is not detected in Mr. King's body.

    The next day the press interviews King. He states that there was no racial element to his arrest. (The enhanced audio portion of the video reveals no racial slurs or taunting). There were no other injuries apparent other than those listed above.

    Immediately after the incident, the U.S. Justice Department begins an investigation into whether the police have violated Mr. King's civil rights. They cease their investigation before the beginning of the state trial in Simi Valley. The state trial is moved from Los Angeles County to Simi Valley in Ventura County. This is done because an appellate court decides that because of pre-trial publicity and passions, the officers will not receive a fair trial in Los Angeles County.

    The following is Rodney King's criminal record prior to the above event.

    1983: Convicted of reckless driving after allegedly attempting to run over his future wife following an argument.

    1983: Convicted of trespassing, reduced from a theft charge.

    1989: Convicted of robbery and sentenced to two years in prison. Paroled after one year. During the robbery, King struck his victim with a metal rod. He was on parole the night of the altercation with police. Had he been prosecuted and found guilty for his uncontested acts and behavior, he would have been sent to prison for parole violation. King later acknowledges his awareness of this.

    After Kings beating, he was arrested or detained three more times. Twice for alleged crimes of violence and once for driving under the influence!

    In his opening arguments at the state trial, the <I> prosecutor </I> told the jury King was intoxicated and he was driving at speeds of about 115 mph. He ignored police sirens and flashing lights. He committed multiple traffic violations, including running stop signs and red lights.

    When he finally stopped he didn't cooperate, the officers could not physically control him and that King rose from being flat on the ground and either attacked Officer Powell or sought to run away. The police continued to unnecessarily beat King with their batons when he was not resisting, and the officers repeatedly struck King in the head with their batons.

    The jury acquitted the officers of all charges with the exception of one charge against Powell. The jury hung eight to four to acquit. Within four hours of the verdicts, the riots had started and Los Angeles was in flames.

    The justice department reopened their investigation. Subsequently, the four officers are indicted and tried in a Los Angeles Federal court for violating King's civil rights. Officers' Wind and Briseno are acquitted. Koon and Powell are found guilty. Although the two officers face a possible maximum sentence of 12 years incarceration, they are sentenced to 30 months.

    During the three-hour sentencing hearing, the Federal trial judge, John Davies, accepts much of the defense version of the beating. He strongly criticizes King, who he says provoked the officers' initial actions.

    Judge Davies states, "That only the final six or so baton blows by Powell were unlawful. The first 55 seconds of the videotaped portion of the incident, during which the vast majority of the blows were delivered, was within the law because the officers were attempting to subdue a suspect who was resisting efforts to take him into custody."

    King's provocative behavior began with his "remarkable consumption of alcoholic beverage" and continued through a high-speed chase, refusal to submit to police orders and an aggressive charge toward Powell.

    Davies makes several findings that support the officers' version of events. He concludes that Officer Powell never intentionally struck Mr. King in the head and, "Powell's baton blow that broke King's leg was not illegal because King was still resisting and rolling around on the ground, and breaking bones in resisting suspects is permissible under police policy."

    Mitigation cited by the judge in the determining the length of the prison sentence included the suffering the officers had undergone because of the extensive publicity their case had received, the impending loss of their careers as police officers, their vulnerability to abuse in prison and their having been subjected to two trials.

    The judge acknowledged that having two such trials did not legally constitute double jeopardy, but nonetheless it "raised the specter of unfairness".

    Subsequently, a civil trial was held to determine the validity of Mr. King's complaint that among other things, the police officers had acted with malice and should be assessed punitive damages to be awarded to Mr. King. The jury declines to assess any damages against the officers. They do find the City of Los Angeles liable for Mr. King's injuries and damages. They award him a multi-million dollar judgment.

    The following are my views: Since the United States is considered a separate sovereign from the State of California, it is legally correct that the two trials did not constitute double jeopardy. However, is there anyone who believes the officers were not tried twice for the same thing?

    The state trial was moved from Los Angeles to Simi Valley because the appellate court ruled that the officers could not receive a fair trial in Los Angeles due to pre-trial publicity and passions. After they were acquitted, the riots and fires that followed the verdict validated this view. However, when the officers were retried in Federal Court, they were tried in Los Angeles. Is there anyone who can explain to me how the riots and fires after the first verdict improved their chances to get a fair trial in Los Angeles?

    Is it possible that the jury in the Federal trial could have had their verdict influenced by the fact that the previous jury's verdict of acquittal had caused Los Angeles to erupt in riots, murders, beatings, looting and massive fires?

    The ACLU has for many years held the formal position that two such trials violate the original intent and spirit of the double jeopardy law. However, when the officers were acquitted in the state trial the Southern California chapter of the ACLU voted to split with the national chapter. They abruptly reversed their position, now stating the two trials were not a violation of the spirit of the law. They did so even though nothing new had happen, and there was nothing improper in the state trial--other than an unpopular verdict.

    Why did they change their position? They changed because over time, the Southern California Chapter of the ACLU has ceased having as their main purpose, the protection of civil rights. Instead they have become an ultra liberal organization with a leftist political agenda, dedicated to increasingly using the guise of civil liberties to achieve a political end or goal. One can always predict their stance in advance. They will go the way of the people who fund them want them to go.

    Whatever one's view of the conduct of the police, is there anyone who doesn't believe the motives of those individuals and organizations responsible for the second trial were either political, or they just didn't like the results of the state trial?

    It was in this context that the Federal Trial Judge made his comments about the second trial raising the "specter of unfairness".

    The moral of this story is that if you don't get a politically correct verdict at the State level just prosecute them in Federal Court. Then assign your best prosecutors and give them an unlimited budget and staff. In this case, 19 full-time FBI agents and nine attorneys with over one hundred support staff. With enough money and professional staff, you can legally crush and overpower just about anyone. Then to be sure you will get a conviction, have the trial in the same city that went up in flames when the previous jury acquitted the defendants.

    One could sum up the Federal trial as being where two cops, one of whom never touched Mr. King, were sentenced to 30 months incarceration because King received six blows too many while resisting arrest.

    With this case, the media once again proved it would report that which is most likely to inflame and sensationalize, while generating the largest audience and selling the most newspapers. They will do so knowing they will not be held responsible or liable for anything they report, or fail to report. Even now they continue to distort the facts. When the jury of the state trial was impaneled, they consisted of 10 whites, one Hispanic, and one Asian. A fact the media made a point of emphasizing. However, now the media almost always refers back to the jury as "all white. They always talk about the trial being held in the mostly white community of Simi Valley. They never say why it was held in Simi Valley.

    Thus ends the tale of Rodney King, a drunken paroled violent robber, briefly out of prison, and by his own testimony intent on not going back. He led police on a high-speed chase and resisted arrest by throwing off four officers who tried to control him. He then overcame the effects of two tasings. All of this before the famous videotape began to roll. Nevertheless, he is the man regularly and routinely described by the media as, "Motorist Rodney King, beaten by police". Sounds like your model citizen, who while out for a leisurely drive, was stopped by the cops for no reason, and then beaten just for spite.

    Rodney King was awarded a great deal of money for suffering a broken cheekbone, hairline fracture of the leg, minor abrasions and lacerations. All of which he received while resisting arrest after nearly an eight mile police chase while he was intoxicated and on parole.

    Nevertheless he profited by it both financially and personally. Oh well, we owed it to him. After all, it was the politically correct thing to do. Besides, a politically correct urban legend makes a much better story then the truth.
  2. ethics

    ethics Pomp-Dumpster Staff Member

    This is, without a doubt, the best desciption of the event I've read, ever.

    Although, I am very depressed about the situation and how our media makes or breaks people it has no idea about.
  3. Coriolis

    Coriolis Bob's your uncle

    I'll say it before he has a chance:
    And in this one rare case, I might even agree, except...

    When I think back to the video, and I'm sure I only saw it, oh, about 400 times, it was a very intense beating he received. Do you really think it was justified to that extent?

    And since the two witnesses, King's passengers, apparently did not see anything, can we be 100% sure this is an accurate accounting of the "truth"?

    In any event, the media, which I prefer to attach the label of <i>carnivorous opportunists</i>, most certainly made a fine mess of this one. I wonder how Reginald Denny is getting along these days...
  4. RRedline

    RRedline Veteran MMember

    JW, that was an amazing post!

    First of all, the video had an effect on me. I mean, it looked like a poor guy getting the shit kicked out of him for no good reason. However, I also remember hearing a few speak out against him and defended the officers. I remember hearing that he was travelling at well over 100 MPH while on drugs, refused to stop and was running stop signs and red lights, then he resisted arrest. Call me a meanie of you want, but I say the creep deserved the beating he got! Imagine how many people's lives he put in danger. Just because he got the shit kicked out of him doesn't mean we should all feel sorry for him. I'm sure many, many people still have no idea why Rodney was even stopped by police. All they know is that "racist" cops beat him up. We owe the media many thanks for that. Of course, at least some of the beating was unneccesary, and two (or more) wrongs don't make a right.

    I was much less disturbed by the Rodney Kind video than I was of the footage of the LA riots. I was very moved by the video showing Reginald Denny being dragged from his truck and almost murdered in cold blood by street thugs. I felt like I wanted to rush to his aid and try to stop the assbags from beating him. He suffered permanent injuries, and the man holds no grudge against his attackers.

    Rodney King got a well deserved beating, and now he is a multi-millionaire(unless he spent it all on drugs already). Reginald Denny, a truly innocent motorist, got dragged from his vehicle and was the victim of a racially motivated hate crime, and his attackers got a slap on the wrists.

    "Oh, you guys were upset about a trial that had nothing to do with you? Okay, then it's okay that you tried to kill this innocent man that you've never met." That about sums up that incident to me.

    Just think how differently things would have turned out if the King incident had never been filmed. He would be sitting in jail or he would be dead. LA would have been sparred, but who knows where that pent up anger and aggression that the African American community had would be right now. Perhaps it would have come out somewhere else over some other issue. Maybe OJ would have been convicted, and LA would have erupted over that instead. Am I the only person who feels that the OJ verdict was reached before the jury actually deliberated?
  5. Coriolis

    Coriolis Bob's your uncle

    A well deserved beating? I'm not sure I agree there is such a thing as a "'well deserved" beating, but I'll admit after having read JW's post, and assuming those are the <i>true</i> facts (which the skeptic in me refuses to believe 100%) and not the <i>conveniently glossed over</i> facts, I'm more willing to settle on the idea that what happened to Rodney King, right or wrong, was brought on by himself.

    I was also more taken back by the beating of Reginald Denny. And when I saw him on Larry King a year later, soft spoken, polite and with a concavity in the side of his head the size of a grapefruit, my heart went out to poor guy.
  6. dainbramage

    dainbramage Land Of The Lost

    Very good post. At the time this had gone to court, I do remember reading that, we, the public, did not get the full story. I did not understand why the media continued to sensationalize this as Rodney King had broken some laws and resisted arrest.
    While in some areas of the country, blacks are still treated like they were over 100 years ago, I do not think that any race should get preferential treatment and I do think that the media should find better things to do than inflame the public.
  7. RRedline

    RRedline Veteran MMember

    I feel very sorry for that man. Unfortunately, the video showing him being beaten by black thugs was not shown over and over and over by the media the way they did with the Rodney King video. That's sad because King was a criminal, and Denny was an innocent citizen. I would not have been as forgiving as Denny apparently is. I certainly would not have appeared on television stating that my beating was understandable considering the events that took place prior to the riots. There simply is no justification for selecting an innocent victim that you don't even know, by the color of his skin, and beating him almost to death. If the Rodney King verdict was wrong, then fight to change it. Don't add more wrongs to the equation.

    I guess it is just difficult for me to feel sorry for King considering that he was putting so many other people's lives in jeopardy. Had he smashed into a minivan carrying an entire family while running one of those stop signs, we would all look down on him as a criminal despite any beating he may have received. He got lucky, and instead he is filthy rich for it.

    There was definitely excessive force being used, and the officers should have been punished for it. However, King should have been sent directly to prison, and in my opinion, he should have been given a sentence of at least five years. Did he serve any time at all? Just because he took a few unwarranted whacks, his crimes were pretty much ignored. Exposing "racism" apparently trumps any actual wrongdoing.
  8. Jedi Writer

    Jedi Writer Guest

    No he never served any time for his crimes that night. In fact he was given a semi-free lifetime get out jail free pass because of that night. He got into many problems and committed other criminal acts over the following years but pretty much was allowed to skate because he was Rodney King.

    In my opinion he "deserved" the beating he got which by the way looks much worse than it actually was. Don't think so? Just look at the actual injuries he got.

    Also in two of the three trials the juries found the officers committed no wrong. In the third they acquitted two of the four and the two that were convicted were only guilty of hitting him six times to many. He was struck a total of 33 times so even the jury that convicted him said indirectly that the police did nothing wrong in hitting him 27 out of 33 times.

    Finally, once again King stated the day after the trial that there was no racial element to the beating he got and the subsequent enhanced video and its accompanying audio revealed no racial taunts or slurs.

    To take the beating issue a step further what should the cops have done differently?

    <i>What would you have done?</i>

    For those who have doubts regarding the facts I set forth I sincerely would be happy to hear which of my facts you disagree with and why you disagree and if you have any facts that contradict the ones I set forth then please give your source.

    As I said in my original post the basis for my facts were: The Los Angeles District Attorney's investigation of the incident; opening and closing arguments by the prosecution in the State trial; testimony and statements of witnesses; the U.S. Department of Justice investigation; the enhanced video-tape; medical and public records. You will also note in my original post the very abundant use of quotes. Those were quotes from the sworn testimony of quite a few people all of whom were there or saw King that night including the medical personnel that treated him.

    As one of the jurors said in the first trial, Rodney King was in control of what happen that night.

    In fact for the money he got I would take that beating anytime. Where do I go to sign up?

    So the blame lies with Rodney King and no one else with one exception. That one exception is Melanie Singer. But Melanie is for another post should anyone be interested--which I doubt that they are.
  9. HaYwIrE

    HaYwIrE Banned

    Well, what <b>would</b> you expect? [​IMG]

    I have seen the full unedited version of the tape several times. I have seen the edited version, also, several times. They do, indeed, tell two complete different stories. Of course, with the ACLU and Christ knows how many "<i>other civil</i>" <small>(HHHMMMPPPHHH)</small> rights organizations breathing down the prosecutor and judge's backs, what other choice did they have?

    I have also been witness to several altercations such as this, up close and personal. I have stood on the sidelines when police officers have tried to subdue a small man, much less a full grown man such as King, who was strung out on PCP. It is an amazing thing to witness.

    It is also a very dangerous scenario for the police to have to confront such an animal, and my knowing full well what can happen in such a case and seeing the full unedited video...

    The cops actually used a bit more restraint than I would have. I would have subdued him much quicker and brutally... both for his own safety and the safety of myself and my fellow officers. But you just cannot explain such a situation to someone who has not seen these things happen. People just think that cops are supposed to slap a set of handcuffs on an animal like this and throw him in the back seat of the patrol car. It does not work that way.

    And before one of you damned Liberals jumps down my throat for calling King an animal, that is exactly what a man on PCP is... a wild, dangerous, and unpredictable animal. I tip my hat to the men and women of law enforcement who risk their lives every day with animals like that.

    And I spit in the face of the Liberal media that made it into something that it was not. They sicken me to the core by pulling stunts such as turning clear cut cases like Mayor Marion Barry, OJ Simpson, the Clarence Thomas issue, and the Saint Mary's University Carribean Society shutdown into racial issues.

    <small><b>***PHTOOEY***</b></small> :mad:

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