Sat, Jul 12, 2003 - Page 6 News List

Black teenager cannot recall police assault

NATIONAL FURORE The videotaped incident in which Los Angeles police punched and choked the youth after apprehending him at a petrol station sparked an outcry

AFP , LOS ANGELES

A black teenager who was slammed down onto a patrol car while handcuffed before being punched in the face by a policeman said Thursday he could not recall the incident that sparked a national outcry.

Donovan Jackson, 17, was giving evidence in the long-awaited trial against two white policemen charged in connection with the videotaped altercation that took place in the racially-tense US city of Los Angeles in July last year.

The youngster said he had few memories of the incident, that took place after he was stopped by police as he emerged from a petrol station's shop, because he lost consciousness after being choked by one of the officers.

Jackson, who was 16 at the time, told the court he was approached by officers as he emerged from the store, which he visited while his father was filling up with petrol, and told to sit in their patrol car.

He said he did as he was told but became scared when he saw several officers rushing toward the vehicle. As he began to step out of the car, he was struck by four officers, pushed to the ground and choked, he said.

"One of them choked me," he told the court, "I passed out."

Former Inglewood police officer Jeremy Morse could be seen in an amateur video, shot from a nearby hotel room, pushing the youth's limp body onto the bonnet of the car before slugging him in the face.

Morse, 25, who has since been sacked from the police department in the area of Inglewood, is charged with assault under the color of authority, while his partner Bijan Darvish, 26, is accused of filing a false police report on the incident. Both have denied the charges against them.

The videotaped incident revived the uncomfortable spectre of the 1992 Los Angeles riots which erupted after four white policemen were initially acquitted of beating up black motorist Rodney King in another incident captured on film.

But during opening arguments Wednesday, Morse's lawyer John Barnett, told the jury -- which includes only one black person -- that Jackson "put up a fight and he kicked and he scratched" after police stopped him.

After he was cuffed, Barnett said, Jackson grabbed Morse's testicles, forcing the officer to legitimately defend himself by slugging him in the incident.

Jackson, who has filed a civil rights suit against the city of Inglewood, acknowledged Thursday that he could not deny grabbing Morse's groin because he could not remember the incident.

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