Four former police officers were convicted Friday of beatings, theft and civil rights violations during what a prosecutor called a campaign of brutality against residents of an Oakland housing project.
The former members of the Oakland Housing Authority drug task force were convicted of violating the civil rights of 12 people, including two undercover officers, through beatings, thefts and faked evidence between May and November 1989. Two other officers have pleaded guilty, and two more are awaiting trial.The charges stemmed from several incidents during the course of routine arrests, many on drug charges.
Prosecutors said one of the officers beat an unresisting woman while her husband watched helplessly; a man was hit with a flashlight and required 25 stitches; and an undercover officer was choked by officers in an assault secretly recorded on videotape.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Lawrence Leigh in closing arguments Thursday called the officers a "flying squad of bullies."
The verdict was the most sweeping conviction to date in Northern California for brutality and civil rights crimes by police officers, said William T. McGivern, U.S. attorney for the Northern District.
One juror cried as the foreman read the verdicts convicting Daniel Broussard, Scott Dwyer, Juan Reese and Larry Houston on a variety of felony brutality and conspiracy charges.
The three-week trial was held against the backdrop of international publicity surrounding last month's videotaped beating of a black suspect by white Los Angeles police officers.
All the jurors said during selection that they had seen the Los Angeles videotape.
"Given the current climate of scrutiny of police brutality, the verdict was not a complete surprise," said Dwyer's attorney, Peter Robinson.