Two Florida police officers were indicted on second-degree murder charges in the beating death of a pedestrian and a Georgia police union defended a member, claiming the officer accidentally "stubbed his toe" on a man's head.
Also, a jury convicted a Dayton, Ohio, police officer of a reduced charge of misdemeanor assault for beating a man in a courthouse and a jury in Wyoming acquitted an officer of using excessive force.Attention focused on police tactics nationwide after Rodney King, 25, was beaten March 3 by Los Angeles police who did not realize they were being videotaped by a bystander. Four officers were charged in the case.
In West Palm Beach, Fla., Thursday, a grand jury indicted officers Stephen Rollins and Glen Thurlow.
They were charged in the Nov. 24 death of Robert Jewett, who was fatally beaten after being stopped for questioning as he walked near the Palm Beach Post building.
Joe Huffman, a former Post engraver, told grand jurors he saw Rollins repeatedly hitting Jewett with a police flashlight while Thurlow held him around the neck.
An autopsy concluded that Jewett, 34, died from blunt trauma to the chest and neck. His injuries included bruises to his face, a broken Adam's apple, several broken ribs and ruptured testicles.
The officers also were charged with aggravated battery. Each was freed on $10,000 bond.
In Jonesboro, Ga., the International Brotherhood of Police Officers defended an Atlanta police officer arrested for kicking Steven Phelps in the head after a high-speed chase last week.
Officer R.A. Kooi was arrested by Clayton County police Thursday and charged with misdemeanor battery. He was released on his own recognizance.
"They've got no case that Kooi kicked the guy in the head. From everybody's statements it's totally accidental," said Chip Warren, national vice president of the union. "The guy was on the ground being cuffed. Kooi runs up to assist and gets too close. . . . He stubbed his toe on his head."
In Ohio, Dayton officer Richard S. Davis, who was accused of slamming a handcuffed man's face against the courthouse floor, was convicted Thursday of the misdemeanor.
Davis faces a maximum of six months in prison and a $1,000 fine. He had been charged with a felony, which carried a maximum term of 18 months in prison.
Defense attorney Bobby Joe Cox said he would appeal and seek to have Davis, who is suspended without pay, reinstated on the police force.
Witnesses said Davis beat 27-year-old Larry Ealy after four other officers had subdued him on March 14, 1990. Ealy had been arrested after allegedly pushing Davis' partner during an argument.
A jury acquitted Jackson, Wyo., police officer Forrest Hall of using excessive force during an arrest.
Hall had been accused of beating ranch hand Kevin Donahue in February 1990.
Donahue, 33, claimed he was minding his own business on his front yard when Hall beat him up and charged him with resisting arrest. Hall said Donahue looked suspicious, refused to answer his questions and attacked him.
Donahue was acquitted last summer of criminal charges stemming from the incident.