CHP Officer: LAPD Officer Said He Got Tired Beating King
LOS ANGELES (AP) _ The policeman who struck the most blows against Rodney King later said, ″You know, I tired myself out hitting that guy,″ a highway patrolman testified Friday.
California Highway Patrol Officer Timothy Singer said Officer Laurence Powell made the remark to him after he asked: ″Are you LAPD’s designated hitter or what?″
Singer’s testimony came in the punitive damages phase of King’s lawsuit against 15 former and current police officers who either beat him or watched the beating. Former Police Chief Daryl Gates is also a defendant.
Singer testified previously in the two criminal trials of the four white policemen charged in the black motorist’s beating but had never before related this conversation.
Powell and Sgt. Stacey Koon were convicted last year of violating King’s civil rights and sentenced to 30 months in prison. Both were fired.
Powell was in the courtroom for testimony Friday; Koon wasn’t.
Earlier this week, the same jury ordered the city of Los Angeles to pay King $3.8 million in compensatory damages for medical bills, pain and suffering, and loss of future earnings stemming from the beating. The city was the sole defendant in that phase of the trial, but isn’t liable for punitive damages.
Singer and his wife, Melanie, also a CHP officer, began the March 3, 1991 freeway chase of King’s speeding car that ended in the videotaped beating. The couple has said the LAPD took control of the situation and told them to back off.
When the beaten King was taken to Pacifica Hospital, Singer said he went there and confronted Powell in the lobby.
″I said, ’Are you LAPD’s designated hitter or what?‴ he recalled. ″I said that because Officer Powell was the only LAPD officer I saw in that large group striking Mr. King.″
King attorney Frederico Sayre asked, ″And what did Officer Powell say?″
Singer replied, ″You know, I tired myself out hitting that guy.″
Also Friday, former Officer Tim Wind testified for the first time about his role in the beating. Wind and Theodore Briseno were both acquitted of criminal charges. Wind, a rookie officer, was fired while Briseno was suspended. Both are trying to get their jobs back.
Wind told jurors he never questioned Koon’s order to hit King because during police training he had been taught that ″sergeants ... get the big bucks and you follow their orders and think about it later.″
Wind said Koon shouted, ″Hit him 3/8 Hit him 3/8″ even after King had been struck in the face.
It was the first time anyone has attributed such an order to Koon.