Witness: Traffic Directed by Skin Color at Denny Beating Site
LOS ANGELES (AP) _ A motorist robbed at the intersection where Reginald Denny was beaten testified Monday that a black man allowed black drivers through the area, but pointed at her and said: ″Get her. She’s not a sister.″
Alicia Maldonado, whose car was damaged and purse taken at the intersection where last spring’s riots began, said that as she approached the area the traffic slowed.
″I had to slow down because traffic was being directed according to the color of your skin,″ she said.
Maldonado was the first prosecution witness in the trial of Damian Williams, 20, and Henry Watson, 28, who are accused of beating Denny and seven others at the start of the April 29, 1992, riots.
The two face up to life in prison if convicted of attempted murder and other felonies.
″The persons that were allowed to pass were all black - dark,″ said Maldonado, who is Hispanic.
The X-ray technician said she was driving through South Central Los Angeles to a job interview and was unaware that four white police officers had just been acquitted of most charges in the videotaped beating of black motorist Rodney King.
Under cross-examination by defense attorney Wilma Shanks, Maldonado said a black man, dressed in a white T-shirt and dark shorts, with a blue bandanna around his neck, pointed at her car and said, ″Get her. She’s not a sister.″
Prosecutors have said that Williams wore those clothes at the intersection of Florence and Normandie avenues where the riots started after the King verdicts were announced. Maldonado was not asked to identify the defendants in court.
Both Williams and Watson are accused of assault with a deadly weapon - in this case, rocks - against Maldonado. She wasn’t hurt.
Her attack, like Denny’s, was filmed. The footage of Denny, who is white, being pulled from his truck and beaten was broadcast nationally.
Defense attorneys claim their clients are the victims of mistaken identities.
Deputy District Attorney Janet Moore led Maldonado through videotape and photographs of her attack. The videotape shows a man reaching through the smashed passenger-side window of her car and grabbing her purse.
Maldonado was hesitant to identify people on the videotape as those at the scene of the attack.
For instance, she told Moore she had been aware of someone standing to the right of her car, but she wouldn’t say that it was a shirtless man videotaped reaching in and taking her purse.
″I was trying to get the hell out of there as fast as I could,″ she said. ″I was in shock.″
She said she didn’t know her purse was stolen until well after she had cleared the intersection. The videotape showed a man in a maroon shirt holding open the purse.
″I was looking, ducking, looking, ducking, getting out of there,″ she told Shanks, who represents Williams.
Later, Shanks asked whether Maldonado knew what object smashed her windshield.
″I didn’t get out of the car and ask him,″ she snapped.
Maldonado also said she had ″a problem with being in court.″
″My personal problem here is that, ironically, my husband is African- American,″ she said.
Another defendant in the Denny case, Antoine Miller, 21, is charged with attempted murder but has been granted a separate trial. Lance Jerome Parker, 27, awaits trial on an assault with a firearm charge and other felony charges.′
Three other men pleaded guilty or no contest to various charges in the case.