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On the Beat, Police March to a Changing Set of Rules : LAPD: Some officers feel new policies mean more danger and unwarranted complaints. Others see hope.

SCENES FROM THE INNER CITY: Fallout from the Rodney G. King incident. One in a series. NEXT: How a police raid on an apartment changed a family's life.

December 17, 1991|STEPHEN BRAUN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

"First thing I did was use the Taser," Hardeman recalled, referring to a stun dart he fired at him. "He pulled it clear out of his body and threw it on the ground. So we Tased him a second time. Still nothing. As I'm standing there, I look over at my backup and there are some of the same guys who'd been giving me a hard time in the debates."

At that moment, Hardeman wondered if the others would follow his lead or revert to their old ways--as Foothill Division officers had done to Rodney King after he had been Tasered twice. But this time, unlike that night last March, no one hoisted his baton. Instead, an officer sprayed Mace at the drunken suspect. As the man clawed at his face, the officers piled on, cuffing him and clapping iron restraints on his legs. It would be another four hours before he would shake off the liquor and ask innocently, "What did I do?"

The officers began heading back to their cars, still spitting, coughing and rubbing their eyes from the effects of the Mace. Hardeman made his way toward one of his adversaries, a cop who had argued with him in a roll call debate.

"Thanks for giving it a chance," Hardeman said, reaching out to shake the man's hand.

"Yeah," was the man's only reply. But he accepted Hardeman's hand.

It was a start.

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