Rodney King's lawyer said he will file a $56 million claim against the city on behalf of the man whose videotaped beating and stomping at the hands of police has touched off an international furor.
Attorney Steven Lerman said Tuesday the figure is no accident but based on the fact that "the police inflicted 56 potentially mortal blows" on King the night of March 3 when several white officers pulled the black, unemployed construction worker over in the San Fernando Valley for allegedly speeding.More than a dozen officers can be seen in a videotape of the attack that was taken from across the street by an apartment dweller. Four were actively involved in either stunning King, 25, with an electric Taser or beating and stomping him. All have been indicted on criminal charges.
Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., who has been leading the chorus for federal involvement in the case, said in an interview Wednesday on Fox's "Morning News" program that the incident had created such a national furor that it is "begging for federal intervention."
"We're not trying to try the entire L.A. Police Department, nor police in general," Conyers said. "What I'm saying, though, is that the problem goes far deeper than the one beating that we were shocked and outraged and stunned by.
"What we're looking for is not to help prosecute this case. . . . What we're thinking about is what about all the Rodney Kings for whom there was no amateur videotape recorder on the scene and so we need to look at this on a national basis."
Lerman said his office is investigating whether other officers either witnessed or were aware of the beating, and police spokesman Lt. Fred Nixon upped the number Tuesday, saying there were 21 city police officers "at the scene of the incident . . . "
Lerman is also looking at the possibility that a California Highway Patrol officer participated in the attack, which could add the state to any possible lawsuits. The personal injury claim is the first step toward such lawsuits.
Mayor Tom Bradley, in a televised interview from Hawaii late Tuesday, seemed to be nudging Police Chief Daryl Gates - the focal point of a political maelstrom that began after the March 3 beating - to leave his post.
The county's top labor leader on Tuesday called for Gates to resign.
"This is a time of infamy and shame in this city of Los Angeles," said Bill Robertson, executive secretary of the county Federation of Labor, which represents about 700,000 union workers. "If Chief Gates really feels he has an affinity for his personnel, then he should resign. "