Tapes of police conversations showing bigotry and callousness in the videotaped beating of a black man rekindled protests and demands Tuesday for Chief Daryl Gates' resignation.
"I haven't beaten anyone this bad in a long time," read a computer message sent from the squad car assigned to officers Laurence M. Powell and Timothy Wind.It was not known which of the two - both indicted last week in the police assault on a speeding suspect - was operating the squad car computer, which officers use to communicate with each other in the field.
A response to the message included the words, "Oh not again . . . why for you do that? . . . I thought you agreed to chill out for a while."
Another message referred to an earlier call to break up a domestic dispute between a black couple. One officer said it reminded him of "Gorillas in the Mist," a movie set in Africa.
The squad car that received the message responded: "HaHaHaHa. Let me guess who be the parties."
Gates on Monday released the computer messages and audiotapes made among the officers before and after the March 3 beating of Rodney G. King, which was videotaped by an onlooker.
One of Gates' most emphatic defenses of his department since the videotape was first shown around the nation and the world has been that it was an aberration by some rogue cops and does not indicate a pattern of violence or racism.
Mayor Tom Bradley issued an angry statement upon landing in Honolulu on a city business trip.
"The transcript sickens and saddens me," Bradley said. "It is clear that the officers demonstrate a casual and cavalier attitude toward this horrific beating. In addition, it appears that bigoted remarks are not only tolerated but applauded (within the police department)."
Cmdr. Rick Dinse, who is handling the internal investigation of the beating, acknowledged the "gorilla" comment appeared to be racist.
The tapes rekindled demands for Gates to resign.
The Los Angeles Times in an editorial Tuesday called on Gates to step down, "not because of legal necessity - there is none - but because of moral wisdom."
The Times argued that "the healing" in the police department and in the community cannot begin until Gates, as the focal point of built-up enmity for the department, moves on.