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Unlike Past, L.A. Police Win Against King in Sui

By Daniel B. Wood / June 3, 1994



LOS ANGELES

LEGAL experts here are sifting through post-trial evidence in the Rodney King civil case to analyze why the same jury that had earlier awarded Mr. King $3.8 million in compensatory damages awarded him no punitive damages.

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``The jury seemed to decide that the officers, the LAPD, and the city have suffered enough punishment already,'' says Robert Pugsley, a law professor at Southwestern University School of law here who has followed the three King trials.

Other experts feel that the verdict was not surprising because the compensatory sum of $3.8 million for damages to cover medical and legal bills and a lifetime of lost income was a generous sum. There is also some sentiment that the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) has put some of its worst days behind by instituting reforms under its new chief, Willie Williams.

The federal jury announced its verdict Wednesday, closing the case which began March 3, 1991, when King was videotaped being beaten after a car chase. The racially mixed panel found that former police Sgt. Stacey Koon and former officer Lawrence Powell had acted with malice, but that officers Timothy Wind, Theodore Briseno, Louis Turriaga, and Rolando Solano did not.

``The jury ... took into consideration the amount of suffering that the officers have already undergone,'' says Peter Arenella, a law professor at the University of California, Los Angeles. Officers Koon and Powell have lost their jobs and are serving 30-month prison terms.