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Donovan Jackson Arrest

Video-Tape Captures Police Beating Hand-Cuffed Teen

Sixteen-year-old Donovan Jackson, who reportedly has a developmental disability, was arrested by Inglewood, California police in July 2002. A video-tape of the arrest, showing an officer slamming the hand-cuffed teen onto the back of a patrol car and repeatedly striking him on the face, was broadcasted on television across the country.

OFFSITE: Report and editorial from Revolutionary Worker

Donovan Jackson

INGLEWOOD, CALIFORNIA--Last Saturday, a tourist video-taped an Inglewood Police officer slamming 16-year-old Donovan Jackson down onto a police car and then punching him in the face -- while he was handcuffed.

Police Officer Jeremy Morse was suspended on administrative leave while the police department, district attorney and mayor's office investigate the incident. Some are comparing the incident to the 1991 video-taped beating of Rodney King Jr, because Jackson, who is black, was beaten by Morse, who is white.

"It was wrong," said Jackson, who reportedly has a developmental disability and is a special education student, at his attorney's office Monday.

According to the Associated Press, the video was recorded from a motel across the street from the gas station where the incident took place. It shows Jackson being pulled to his feet by Morse, then slammed onto the trunk of the police car. The tape also shows Morse putting a hand on the back of Jackson's neck, slugging him with his other hand and then trying to choke him.

Two other officers intervened, with at least one attempting to pull Morse away from Jackson.

It is not yet known what happened before the tourist began video-taping.

According to Jackson's attorney, Joe Hopkins, the teenager and his father, Coby Chavis, had pulled into the convenience store to gas up their car and so Jackson could get some potato chips. When Jackson came out of the store two Los Angeles County sheriff's deputies were investigating Chavis' car which had an expired registration.

Jackson asked what the deputies were doing, and was told to stay back from the car.

A police spokesperson said Jackson then lunged at one of the deputies. Jackson was arrested, handcuffed and placed in the squad car.

When Inglewood officers arrived on the scene, Jackson stood up. A deputy grabbed him by the neck and the city officers began beating Jackson, Hopkins said.

Hopkins said Jackson had worn a heavy chain around his neck and that the officers dragged him by it until it broke.


Video Tells Only Part Of Story

INGLEWOOD, CALIFORNIA -- The stories behind the July 6 beating of Donovan Jackson are beginning to reveal much more than the video-tape shows.

Jackson, 16, was handcuffed by Inglewood police when a tourist video-taped officer Jeremy Morse lifting Jackson from the ground, slamming him onto the trunk of a squad car and then punching the teen in the face.

The incident has been replayed on television news programs across the country. Some have mentioned that Jackson has a developmental disability and is a student in a special education program. Most focus on the fact that Morse is white and Jackson is black, comparing the incident to the videotaped police beating of Rodney King Jr, in 1991.

Jackson reportedly came out of a convenience store to find Los Angeles County Sheriff's deputies investigating an expired registration on a car that belongs to Jackson's father. The deputies said that Jackson assaulted them after he was told to sit in a squad car.

Inglewood police, including officer Morse, arrived on the scene and attempted to hand-cuff Jackson.

That's when Mitchell Crooks heard screams and began videotaping the incident from across the street. His two-minute recording captured images of Morse striking the hand-cuffed teen.

Over the weekend, Inglewood officer Bijan Darvish reported that he, too, punched Jackson in the face two times before the teenager was hand-cuffed.

"I yelled at Jackson to let go of my uniform; however, he refused," Darvish said in the report signed by himself and officer Morse. "Fearing that Jackson would pull me into him and strike me with his other hand, I punched him two times in the face, using my right hand," said Darvish.

Jackson's attorney, Joe Hopkins, told the Los Angeles Times he believed that two other officers "took turns" beating his client before the videotape began.

Last Thursday, Crooks was arrested after police found that he had drunk driving, hit-and-run and petty theft charges stemming from a night of reckless behavior in Los Angeles three years ago.

The Los Angeles Times reported on Monday that more than a dozen complaints of excessive force have been filed against Inglewood officers in recent years. Those claims reportedly included police breaking noses, knocking out teeth or otherwise mistreating arrestees. Many of the alleged victims said they were assaulted by the officers after verbally challenging them or not immediately doing what they were told.

None of the accused officers have been charged with crimes, in part because the Inglewood Police Department has not referred any of the cases to the district attorney's office.


Officers In Jackson's Arrest Sue City For Discrimination

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA -- Two Inglewood police officers involved in the July arrest of 16-year-old Donovan Jackson have filed a lawsuit against the town claiming reverse discrimination.

Jackson, who is black and reportedly has a developmental disability, was arrested for assaulting officers outside a convenience store when asked to sit in a squad car.

A videotape of the arrest, showing officer Jeremy Morse slamming a hand-cuffed Jackson onto the back of a patrol car and repeatedly punching him in the face, was broadcasted by television news stations across the country.

Morse was fired from the Inglewood Police Department and charged with assault. Officer Bijan Darvish was suspended and charged with filing a false police report. Both have pleaded not guilty to the charges. They are suing to get their jobs back and for compensatory damages.

In their suit, Morse and Darvish claimed the city treated them unfairly because they are white. They said that a black officer who struck Jackson with his flashlight was suspended for only four days and faced no criminal charges. Morse and Darvish accused the city of disciplining them based on political pressure rather than department policy.

The videotaped scene reminded many of the well-known 1991 police beating of Rodney King Jr. Four officers accused in King's videotaped beating were later acquitted, sparking violent riots in Los Angeles.


Officer's Lawyer accuses Donovan Jackson Of lying About Video-Taped Arrest

INGLEWOOD, CALIFORNIA -- A lawyer representing an Inglewood Police officer is accusing a teenager with developmental disabilities of deliberately lying to juries about his treatment during a video-taped arrest 2 1/2 years ago.

Donovan Jackson was arrested on July 6, 2002 for attacking officers Bijan Darvish and Jeremy Morse outside a convenience store after he had been asked to sit in a squad car while his father was issued a ticket for expired license tabs. An amateur videotape of the arrest, showing officer Morse slamming the hand-cuffed 16-year-old onto the back of a patrol car and repeatedly punching him in the face, was broadcast on television news stations around the world.

Officer Morse was fired and charged with using excessive and unnecessary force. Those assault charges were dropped last February after two separate trials ended in hung juries.

Officer Darvish was suspended and charged with filing a false police report. He was later acquitted on that charge.

The Daily Breeze has reported that attorney Corey W. Glave, representing Darvish, asked Los Angeles County District Attorney Steve Cooley last Friday to investigate Jackson for up to seven counts of perjury.

Donovan Jackson Arrest Jackson's inconsistent testimony -- about which officer struck him, how many times he was struck, whether he followed officers' instructions, and whether he was unconscious during parts of the arrest -- was believed to have been the primary reason for the hung juries.

In a letter to Cooley, Glave claimed that Jackson's conflicting testimony had nothing to do with innocent mistakes or him having trouble remembering the event. Instead, Cooley argued, the perjury charges and evidence "indicate the calculated, malicious effort of this young man to obstruct justice and mislead finders of fact in order to obtain financial gains."

Jackson's family has said they believe the teen may have responded slowly to officers' orders because of his disabilities.

During one trial, a special education coordinator testified that Jackson's disabilities affect how he processes information, making it difficult for him to follow directions, remember events and to express himself.


Assault Charges dropped against Officer Morse in Donovan Jackson Arrest

INGLEWOOD, CALIFORNIA -- Prosecutors have decided to drop charges against former Inglewood police officer Jeremy Morse -- who was accused of assaulting a teenager with developmental disabilities -- now that a second trial has ended in a hung jury.

The jury last week could not resolve a 6-6 deadlock. Morse's first trial last July also ended in a hung jury, with 7 jurors voting for conviction.

"I'm convinced that the chances of reaching a unanimous decision either way is virtually nil," said Superior Court Judge William Hollingsworth Jr as he dismissed the case Friday.

Morse was accused of using excessive and unnecessary force when he and Officer Bijan Darvish arrested Donovan Jackson on July 6, 2002. Jackson was being arrested for attacking the officers outside a convenience store after he had been asked to sit in a squad car while his father was issued a ticket for expired license tabs.

A videotape of the arrest, showing officer Morse slamming the hand-cuffed 16-year-old onto the back of a patrol car and repeatedly punching him in the face, was broadcast on television news stations around the world.

Morse was fired from the Inglewood Police Department and charged with assault. Darvish was suspended and charged with filing a false police report.

Jackson, now 18, testified in the second trial that he was sitting in the squad car, but got scared and stood up when he saw several officers running toward him. His family said the teenager may have responded slowly to officers' orders because of his disability.

Donovan Jackson ArrestJackson also testified that the officers beat him, struck him with a flashlight and choked him until he passed out. He said he did not try to scratch, hit or kick any of the officers.

Defense attorney John Barnett pointed out several inconsistencies between Jackson's statements to a grand jury and his testimony during the trials.

The videotaped scene reminded many of the well-known 1991 police beating of Rodney King Jr. Four officers accused in King's videotaped beating were later acquitted, sparking violent riots in Los Angeles.

Morse, who is white, could have been sentenced to three years in prison if he had been convicted of assaulting Jackson, who is black.


Community activist: 'These officers were both guilty'

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA (CNN) --A California judge declared a hung jury Tuesday in the case against a white former officer who punched and slammed a handcuffed black teenager onto a squad car during a videotaped arrest. CNN correspondent Dan Lothian talked with a community activist and the man who caught the beating on tape to get their reaction.

LOTHIAN: Standing here with me is Najee Ali, a community activist who has been involved not only in this case, attending every day of the trial, but also being involved in keeping the peace in the community.

First of all, your reaction to the verdicts, or the nonverdict in one case today?

ALI: I'm outraged, and I'm very upset. These officers were both guilty, and they should have been found guilty. So it's a slap in the face. And this is really Rodney King all over again. Here we go again.

LOTHIAN: What do you think was the confusion for some members of the jury that they were not able to see what you saw or what you think you saw on that videotape?

ALI: It shouldn't be any confusion. But I say white America sees things differently than black America. This is Rodney King all over again, where the whole world saw Rodney King beat on tape and [in this case] Donovan Jackson beat on videotape. Yet once again we see things differently with two different verdicts.

LOTHIAN: Were you surprised, though, that they couldn't even reach a verdict? Because it seemed to me that the pulse of community activists early on throughout this trial was that the prosecution was not really presenting a strong case and that this was a slam dunk for the defense.

ALI: Well, I'm not surprised as far as Bijan Darvish because the prosecution's efforts were weak and they made no effort to really even try this man. So we sat through the last few days wondering why this guy [is] even down here if he's not going to be prosecuted?

Najee Ali

LOTHIAN: Where do you go from here as a community activist? There is certainly anger. But what is the next level that you feel in your mind you can receive justice?

ALI: Well, it's not over with. This case is not over with. We want to demand that [Los Angeles County District Attorney] Steve Cooley retry Officer [Jeremy] Morse. We want to make sure that he is retried by competent prosecutors; that he's brought to justice because he beat that kid and was really crazy.

[Amateur videographer] Mitchell Crooks is the only one that was put in jail, the man that shot the videotape. He's a hero. And the criminal was found not guilty by a hung jury.

LOTHIAN: Now, obviously, throughout this anger and these feelings that you have right now, you also want to send a clear message to the community. You've been doing that throughout this trial. And what is that message?

ALI: That -- let not one bottle or brick be thrown. You can be angry. But let's be angry in a controlled manner and make sure that we keep the peace. So we're not going to tear our own neighborhoods up. We're going to get justice, though. We're going to keep fighting.

LOTHIAN: Mitchell, you shot the videotape. If it wasn't for that videotape, we probably would not be here today. Your thoughts?

CROOKS: I'm not surprised by the outcome at all. I knew that the prosecution was blowing the case. They didn't ask me to testify. They didn't ask the 20 people on the videotape to testify ... So I just knew what the outcome was going to be. I knew by the way that they handled my situation that they were not serious about trying this case.

I'm not surprised at all. We still brought the issue of police brutality to the public, and it ain't going away. People are going to go out there with their cameras and they're going to film police because it's the most nonviolent way to get your point across.

LOTHIAN: I'm wondering, when you caught what you got on videotape, did you think that once this went to trial with that videotape, that it would pretty much be a slam dunk case? That it was on videotape, so there was only one way that people could judge it.

CROOKS: I knew that the public knew. I knew that the media knew. I knew that people all around knew and they saw that videotape worldwide. So I know that they all could see for themselves what he did.

The boy was in handcuffs. He was in handcuffs and he was subdued already and he was not resisting arrest. And, I mean, I'm not surprised. I'm just not surprised. I knew the outcome.

LOTHIAN: Najee, once again, there's a lot of media presence here. We see a lot of security. Police are circling around in helicopters.

But I know, more than anything else, and you've mentioned this before, that you want everyone to contain whatever anger that they have. What would be your message to people, not only in the Inglewood community, but in other communities around here who might be upset, what they perceive to be injustice in these verdicts?

ALI: Well, they have a right to be upset and they should be angry. I'm very angry. But I'm going to control my anger and make sure it's not [channeled] in a destructive manner. We're going to make sure that we stay [vigilant]. We're going to make sure that we demand that Jeremy Morse is reprosecuted for his crime of police brutality.


Protests over US police beating

Donovan Jackson protest

Protesters are planning more demonstrations

Hundreds of demonstrators have marched in Los Angeles to demand that a white police officer who beat a black teenager be arrested and charged with assault.

The protest follows the videotaped arrest of 16-year-old Donovan Jackson, during which he was punched in the face and slammed onto the side of a patrol car.

While people are properly outraged... it has not gotten out of control as of yet -- John Mack, Community leader

The peaceful protest outside the Inglewood police headquarters was described by the organisers as a unity rally.

Several high-profile members of America's black community are expected to attend another rally on Saturday.

Carrying banners with slogans such as "This happens every day in LA" and '"No justice, no peace, no racist police", the demonstrators called for an independent investigation into the beating.

They said the way in which Donovan was arrested amounted to criminal behaviour. And they demanded that the white officer, Jeremy Morse, be arrested and charged with assault.

Officer Morse has been suspended on full pay while the local police investigate the incident.

The FBI is also conducting an investigation.

Officer Morse's lawyer says he used justified force in detaining Donovan, saying the youth had grabbed the policeman's testicles while his hands were handcuffed behind his back.

But that argument cut no ice with the demonstrators.

"The community wants justice, and we won't rest until we get justice," said one protester.

"We want to make sure the investigation is swift and thorough, but we believe that those officers should be punished, fired and some of them criminally prosecuted."

The main speaker at the rally was Martin Luther King III, the son of America's most famous civil rights leader.

"Over 30 years ago we were dealing with these issues of poverty, racism, violence and police brutality and misconduct," he told the crown.

The case has similarities with that of Rodney King.

"Thirty-five years later we are still dealing with the same problems."

But he had praise for the way in which black people in Los Angeles had responded to the beating of Donovan Jackson.

"However tragic the conditions may be, I first want to commend the leadership of this community for bringing this community together," he said.

Another speaker referred to the fears that the beating of Donovan could trigger a repeat of the 1992 race riots in Los Angeles.

Fifty-four people died in the troubles, which began after four police officers were cleared of assaulting Rodney King.

Video footage had shown Mr King being beaten by the officers.

"While people are properly outraged in the community, as well they should be, it has not gotten out of control as of yet," the executive director of the Los Angeles Urban League, John Mack, said.

The man who took the video of Donovan Jackson's beating, Mitchell Crooks, on Friday started a seven-month jail sentence.

He had been avoiding the authorities in northern California where he had been found guilty of drunk driving and petty theft.

He was detained after turning up at a television studio to be interviewed about the Donovan Jackson beating.


LA Cameraman fears for his life'

The case has sparked widespread outrage

A bystander who videotaped a Los Angeles policeman punching a handcuffed black teenager in the face has said he fears for his life.

Mitchell Crooks told a radio show he was worried the police would be "coming after" him if he revealed his whereabouts.

They're going to kick my ass in a cell and take turns on me

Prosecutors told Mr Crooks on the air that he was being subpoenaed to appear before a grand jury investigating the case on Thursday.

The incident has caused outrage after Mr Crooks's video was repeatedly shown on national television.

Black leaders and the mayor of the LA suburb of Inglewood have called for the officer involved - Jeremy Morse - to be sacked and charged with assault.

The video shows Officer Morse slam 16-year-old Donovan Jackson on to the bonnet of a police car at a petrol station in Inglewood.

The officer is then seen to hit the teenager in the face.

Mr Crooks told the radio show over the phone that he feared police would be "coming after me because I shot the video".

Jackson's lawyer said his client deserved damages

Deputy District Attorney Kurt Livesay, who was also taking part in the programme, told Mr Crooks that prosecutors wanted him to appear before a grand jury and for him to hand over the video tape.

Mr Crooks said he wanted to co-operate but he feared for his life.

"They're going to kick my ass in a cell and take turns on me probably," he said.

He hung up when Mr Livesay asked him to tell investigators where he was.

Local law enforcement agencies and the FBI have opened inquiries into what happened at the petrol station on Saturday.

Inglewood police say Officer Morse was attacked by Mr Jackson before he hit him in self-defence.

The videotape begins just before Officer Morse throws the teenager on to the car.

Mr Jackson and his father, Coby Chavis, who was with him at the time of the incident, have filed a federal lawsuit against two law enforcement agencies and several officers in the case.

Mr Jackson's lawyer, John Sweeney, said he believed his client should receive seven-figure damages.

Officer Morse has been on leave with full pay since Monday.

The case - and a similar incident videotaped in Oklahoma on Monday - have revived memories of the 1991 beating by white LA officers of black motorist Rodney King.

The subsequent acquittal of four officers on criminal charges led to widespread rioting, which left 54 people dead.