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Man Acquitted of Assaulting Police Officer

January 11, 1991|SHANNON SANDS | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

SANTA ANA — A Tustin man who claims that he was beaten by two police officers was acquitted Thursday of assault and battery on one of the officers.

"Thank God it's over," said Richard Daniel Page, 50, after a Municipal Court jury of eight women and four men announced its verdict. "I did tell the truth, and I just thank God I got honest people on the jury."

Page's attorney, Jerry Steering, said it had been Tustin Police Officers Jeffrey Blair and Russell Whitehead who used excessive force, not Page.

"The police officers charged Mr. Page with assault and battery, but neither one of them ever claimed that Mr. Page ever struck them with his hands, feet or any other part of his body," Steering said.

Inconsistencies between the officers' stories also undermined their credibility, he said.

Deputy Dist. Atty. Jeffrey Alan Levy, who had sought to prove that the officers used force to gain control of a potentially dangerous situation, said he is disappointed by the verdict.

"I think the case was a real close one, and I could have seen it going either way," Levy said.

The scuffle occurred Dec. 3, 1989, after Blair and Whitehead responded to a call from Page's wife, Trudy, who said her husband had been drinking and that she was afraid.

After following Page into the office of the Public Storage facility on Franklin Avenue, where he and his wife are resident managers, the officers sprayed Page with Mace and clubbed him, according to police reports and the Pages. Page suffered a concussion, multiple bruises and scrapes and several broken ribs.

The Pages last year sued the city and the officers involved for more than $4 million, alleging violation of civil rights, excessive force and gross negligence.

Although the jury's verdict will have no direct bearing on the civil suit, it might affect settlement talks, Steering said.

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