L.A. police didn't follow procedure in arrest

/ Source: The Associated Press

Officers were not following department policies during the televised arrest and beating of an unarmed black man, Police Chief William Bratton said.

“It is a mess. It is not what we teach at the academy,” Bratton told the Los Angeles City Council during a two-hour briefing Wednesday.

The June 23 beating of suspected car thief Stanley Miller has drawn comparisons to the 1991 beating of black motorist Rodney King and has prompted state and federal investigations. Eight officers have been put on desk duty pending the outcome of the probes.

Miller, 36, was chased by police from South Los Angeles to Compton after he was spotted running a red light in a reportedly stolen car, officers said. Television news helicopters broadcast footage of him being kicked and repeatedly struck with a heavy metal flashlight after he had apparently surrendered and was on the ground.

The police chief told the City Council that it still was unclear from the videotapes where Miller was struck.

He said a series of tactical errors were made during the arrest, beginning with an officer who holstered his gun before tackling Miller when he should have kept it trained on the suspect while other officers handcuffed him.

Officer John Hatfield’s kicking of Miller also was not departmental policy, he said. “We don’t teach kicks,” Bratton said.

Also Wednesday, a group of black leaders announced formation of a commission to monitor the beating investigation. The group will include members of a citizen’s commission appointed by Mayor James Hahn for the same purpose, but will be independent.

The new commission will expand the focus to include police abuse, especially in the black community, said Danny Bakewell Sr., president of the Brotherhood Crusade.

“We think it’s very, very good that the mayor and police chief responded with great indignation about the happenings, but it is not enough,” he said.