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Olympic Medalist Thought of Rodney King When Pulled Over by Police

May 9, 1992

LOS ANGELES (AP) _ Olympic gold medalist Al Joyner was pulled over and handcuffed twice Friday by police looking for a car thief and a hit-and-run driver, then freed both times after officers realized they had the wrong man.

Joyner, a 1984 triple jump gold medalist and husband of Olympic sprinter Florence Griffith Joyner, said the stops left him frightened and angry.

″I kept asking them, ’What did I do? What did I do?‴ said Joyner, who said he feared being shot.

″I didn’t make any sudden moves because I remember Rodney King. Police consider any sudden moves hostile,″ he said.

King, a black motorist, was stopped and beaten by officers March 3, 1991. Four white officers charged with assault were acquitted last week, touching off three days of rioting in Los Angeles.

Sgt. William Davidson, Hollywood Division watch commander, said Joyner was stopped because officers believed he was driving a stolen car.

Joyner, 32, said he was driving his wife’s 1984 Nissan 300ZX when he was stopped. Officers, their guns drawn, ordered him from the car and handcuffed him, he said. They released him when they realized who he was.

He was pulled over again minutes later by officers investigating a report of a hit-and-run accident. He was again ordered from the car by gun-wielding officers and handcuffed, he said.

Police spokesman Sgt. Tony Morgan said Joyner and his car matched the description of a man and car involved in a hit-and-run. He was released when officers verified he wasn’t the suspect, Morgan said.

Jim Moore, Joyner’s publicist, the questioning left Joyner humiliated and terrified. He said Joyner is considering legal action against the Police Department.

In March 1991, former Los Angeles Laker Jamaal Wilkes filed a $250,000 claim against the city, alleging he was stopped by police and handcuffed because he is black.

Earlier that year, ex-baseball star Joe Morgan, who also is black, was awarded $540,000 in damages by a federal jury. Morgan alleged he was roughed up and unjustifiably detained by officers at Los Angeles International Airport.

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