Los Angeles police are seeking a key witness to the videotaped police beating of Rodney King who says King resisted arrest early in the incident, a high-level police source said Sunday.
At the Los Angeles Police Academy, meanwhile, embattled Police Chief Daryl Gates told a crowd of 3,000 cheering supporters that he "absolutely" will not resign despite the controversy that has sparked a national outcry over police brutality and racism.The high-level LAPD source, speaking on the condition of no further identification, told United Press International that a witness to the March 3 beating confirms that police severely beat King after stopping him for speeding.
But the witness also said King initially resisted officers before they used force to subdue him - the force that was captured on videotape by a amateur cameraman and shown on national television.
"He didn't cooperate," the source said. Although police universally believe there was no justification for the pummeling King received, the source said the witness could help show that officers may have been provoked into using force in making the arrest.
The witness was initially interviewed by police but was not deemed important until the videotape of the incident cast doubt on the accounts of the dozen police officers who witnessed the arrest.
The source also said Los Angeles police are furious with FBI investigators, who have gone to the homes of officers involved in the incident, rather than scheduling traditional interviews in an office setting.
"That's harassment all the way," the source said. "They can interview them just as easy in a professional setting and get the same information."
There was no immediate comment from the FBI.
Sunday's rally at the Los Angeles Police Academy was organized by a group of pro-police citizens calling themselves Citizens In Support of the Chief of Police, or CISCOP.
More police training
Law enforcement officals, municipal leaders and civil libertarians said Sunday in Washington, D.C., that police officers need more training to deal with and avoid incidents such as the infamous Los Angeles police brutality case.
Gary Hankins, a Washington policeman and chairman of the Fraternal Order of Police's labor committee, said on CBS's "Face the Nation" that officers are under stress far more frequently and for longer periods than are soldiers in battle.
Lee Brown, New York City's police commissioner, used the occasion to renew a call for President Bush to convene a crime and violence commission of experts to "deal with the real issues that lead to the problems of crime and conflict."
Ramona Ripston, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union Foundation of Southern California, said brutality is on the rise, in part because officers do not have sufficient training.