Rodney King seeks compensation as L.A. readies for trial

TWO Rodney King beating trials divided Los Angeles and fueled a national debate on police brutality. There is one trial left: to determine whether the police-pummeling should make Mr. King a millionaire.

King reportedly is seeking $9.5 million from the city for the March 3, 1991, beating.

Jury selection began yesterday, although settlement talks were continuing up to the last minute. The City Council met in closed session Monday to discuss a possible agreement.

After the closed session, Council President John Ferraro said council members reached no decision but would consider a new offer from King.

The negotiations applied only to the amount of money the city would pay King for his injuries. A trial still would be held to determine whether individual defendants - including former Police Chief Daryl Gates and the four white former police officers charged with beating the black motorist - must pay punitive damages.

King's attorneys insisted the case was not just about money. ``It's an effort to deter misconduct and to hold officers to a particular professional standard,'' said lawyer John Burris. Nevertheless, he added, King has suffered physically and mentally and deserves compensation.

United States District Court Judge John Davies devised a highly unusual procedure for trying the case, breaking the trial into two phases.

The first phase is to focus on how much money the city should pay King for compensatory damages, which includes such things as lost salary.

In the second phase, the jury is to determine the responsibility of the individual officers and some police command staff, and decide how much those individuals should pay. McDougal to make bid

JAMES MCDOUGAL, who put together the Whitewater land deal with President Clinton, says he is running for Congress.

Former operator of the failed Madison Guaranty Savings and Loan, Mr. McDougal said Tuesday he will seek the seat now held by Rep. Jay Dickey (R) of Pine Bluff, Ark.

How will he finance his campaign? ``The Lord will provide,'' replied McDougal, who has said he is living on a Social Security check of less than $800 a month.

``If your cause is just, things always work out,'' he added.

McDougal also is selling rights to dig dirt from a lot in the Whitewater development in Marion County - for $20 a cubic foot.

He ran for Congress in 1982, but was soundly defeated.

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