Prosecution Gets Good Reviews
LOS ANGELES — AFTER four more witnesses for the prosecution scheduled for today, government attorneys are expected to conclude their side of the civil case against four Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) officers charged with beating Rodney King on March 3, 1991.
Before defense attorneys begin their presentations, attorney Harland Braun, who represents officer Theodore Briseno, is expected to move that charges against his client be dropped. Earlier testimony from a police use-of-force expert, who held that Briseno's kick to the head of Mr. King was for purposes of control and did not constitute excessive force, will be the basis for the motion. But legal analysts expect Judge John Davies to reject the motion to dismiss the charges.
Last week's proceedings were favorable to the prosecution, says Dan Caplis, a trial lawyer and analyst who is following the trial closely.
"You had the emotional appearance by King followed by medical testimony alleging baton blows to the head," Mr. Caplis says. "The prosecution was able to be far more effective than in the state trial on criminal charges."
But testimony Friday by LAPD officer Daniel Gonzales was considered a minor rebound for the defense. Mr. Gonzales was supposed to bolster prosecution allegations that police officers "showed off" King, who was sitting battered in a police car, between trips to two area hospitals. Instead, Gonzales told the court he asked to examine King for reasons of his own.
"The Gonzales testimony was not as strong a point as the prosecution promised it would be in their opening statements," Caplis says. "It took everyone by surprise."
Hospital employees Friday challenged the police portrayal of King as belligerent and under the influence of the drug PCP.