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Two King Cousins Arrested in Riots

May 22, 1992|JOHN SCHWADA and MICHAEL CONNELLY | TIMES STAFF WRITERS

Two teen-age cousins of Rodney G. King were arrested during last month's rioting after a brief car chase by Los Angeles police who surprised looters at a Northridge department store--an incident that has prompted new allegations of police brutality.

According to an LAPD arrest report, an officer struck one of the teen-agers and two of her friends with a baton on their arms, legs and hands, fearing that they were about to jump onto him and escape.

An LAPD spokesman said the misconduct allegation is under investigation but refused to say which of the four youths filed the complaints.

One of King's cousins, Briget A. Barnes, 19, has been charged with curfew violation, a misdemeanor. The other, Briget's 17-year-old sister, was booked on a burglary charge at the Devonshire station.

The two teen-agers are King's cousins by marriage, according to relatives. Their mother, Kandyce Barnes of North Hills, has frequently been identified in media reports as King's aunt and has acted as a spokeswoman for him. She declined to discuss her daughters' arrests or the police complaint on Thursday.

Another of King's aunts, Angela King, downplayed the Barnes' involvement in the family Thursday, saying they were not close relatives.

"They are on his in-laws side--they're not blood," Angela King said. "I am sick of people saying they are Rodney's blood relatives. People are always popping up out of the woodwork. We have enough disgrace in our family with what the police did that we don't need this."

LAPD spokesman Lt. John Dunkin said the teen-agers said during their arrest that they were King's cousins. Dunkin said a report on the incident was referred to him in anticipation of media interest but nothing was done by the department to publicize the arrests.

A 28-page police report on the incident said a television set taken from the Target store at Nordhoff Street and Balboa Boulevard was found on the rear seat of a Geo Tracker, which police chased from the store's parking lot. Four young women, including King's cousins, were in the vehicle, the report said. The officers had surprised a band of seven to 10 looters "all carrying merchandise" from the store at 9:30 p.m. on April 30, according to police.

Although neither of King's cousins could be reached for comment, they denied any wrongdoing in statements to police and said the TV was put in the Geo by a man they didn't know. Jishin Jiles, 21, a friend arrested with the teen-agers, said the group had been going out to eat after the citywide curfew when they saw looters at the store and stopped.

The arrival of police prompted many of the people to begin "dropping and discarding their merchandise as they were running east across the parking lot to escape from us," according to the police report.

The report states that officers chased the Geo Tracker, which weaved wildly while being driven backward for several hundred feet--its doors flapping open--before leaving the parking lot. The reports says a juvenile, who had no driver's license, was driving.

When the chase ended a block away, Officer Bruce Christensen--author of the report--ordered the passengers, who were standing in the convertible and attempting to get out, to sit down. When they did not obey and he believed they were going to "jump down on me and try to escape," he struck three of them with his baton on the legs, arms and hands, Christensen said.

Jiles, who suffered two broken fingers, also said Christensen hit her in the head while she was on the ground. Jiles said she had not filed the misconduct complaint but felt it "was wrong that he hit me" in the head. "I was laying on the ground, doing everything they said," Jiles said.

The police report does not mention Jiles being struck in the head. However, a medical report attached to the court files on the incident notes that Jiles was treated at Granada Hills Hospital with two sutures to close a wound on her head.

Briget Barnes, according to a police report, complained of soreness on her legs and arms because of being hit with the baton. Barnes' juvenile sister was not hit by the officer.

Jiles was booked on a burglary charge. The fourth person, Nashea Cofield, 22, also arrested in the incident, was booked for curfew violation. Jiles and Cofield also denied any wrongdoing in statements to police.

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