Four police officers charged in the videotaped beating of a motorist have pleaded not guilty. Meanwhile, a civil rights activist nominated to the Police Commission promised to be fair to the city's embattled police chief.

Sgt. Stacey Koon, 40, and Officers Laurence Powell, 28, and Timothy Wind, 30, and Theodore Briseno, 38, pleaded not guilty Tuesday to assault with a deadly weapon and police brutality in the beating March 3 of Rodney King.Koon and Powell are also charged with filing a false police report, and Koon is accused of being an accessory in a cover-up.

Superior Court Judge Gary Klausner said the trial would probably begin in late April.

Deputy District Attorney Terry White rejected defense attorneys' claims that the case was being rushed to trial because of national publicity.

"This office has done a very thorough and professional job," he told the judge.