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Officer Fired in King Case Gets Job in Culver City : Law enforcement: Timothy E. Wind is hired as a Police Department community service officer. Officials say he is well qualified and note that he was acquitted in two trials.

August 26, 1994|J. MICHAEL KENNEDY | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Timothy E. Wind, the rookie police officer who repeatedly struck and kicked Rodney G. King in the videotaped beating that shook Los Angeles, has been hired as a community service officer by the Culver City Police Department, officials said Thursday.

Wind, who was fired by the Los Angeles Police Department after the 1991 beating but acquitted of criminal charges, will not carry a gun in his new position and is not considered a sworn peace officer, officials said.

"He needed a job and we had a position available and he tested and came out No. 1 on the list," Lt. Joe D'Anjou said. "It's better than nothing, which is what he's been making since L.A."

Wind started work Tuesday on the 35-hour-a-week job, which D'Anjou said pays $9.32 an hour. Earlier this summer, Wind had sought reinstatement in the LAPD and had won a captain's recommendation that he be rehired. But that idea was quickly shot down by Chief Willie L. Williams.

D'Anjou said the hiring of Wind had been kept quiet because of the publicity that it was sure to arouse. He would not comment on how the decision to hire Wind was made, except to say that he had been screened and was qualified for the job.

"Ninety-nine percent of the job is pushing paper and answering the phone," D'Anjou said.

He said there had been no speculation about whether Wind might eventually become a police officer with the Culver City department.

"We haven't even discussed that," D'Anjou said. "We won't even be testing for policemen for another year and a half."

The reaction from community leaders and major players in the King drama was mixed. One of King's lawyers, Steven Lerman, said the Police Department might be inviting trouble for itself, but did not begrudge Wind getting the job.

"It's like Magic Johnson taking a job parking cars. I think there is a public relations issue that has to be addressed and apparently Culver City has elected to assume the controversy," Lerman said. "If it gets out that Culver City has hired Tim Wind, then it might be taken as implicit that that's what it stands for. For Culver City to take on this kind of controversy is somewhat curious."

At the same time, Lerman said, his client has no intention of trying to block Wind from working again.

"Rodney King is not in the mode of a vendetta or retaliation," he said. "If Mr. Wind has a family to support, he's got to do the best he can by them."

Culver City Mayor Albert Vera said he had only heard of Wind's hiring Thursday morning. He said his feelings were mixed, to a point where "one foot is in hot water and another is in icy water."

But he said he had come down on the side of supporting the decision of Culver City Police Chief Ted Cooke to hire Wind.

"I believe these people need a chance to survive too," Vera said. "I think they need a chance to make a living."

City Councilman Ed Walkowitz said he would have been very concerned if Wind had been convicted of anything, but being acquitted twice was a major factor in supporting the former Los Angeles police officer.

"To say that anyone involved, including someone found not culpable, should never get a job again is sort of a scary prospect," Walkowitz said.

Wind's lawyer, Russell Cole, said he did not hear about his client getting the job until Thursday afternoon, when he was contacted by the press for comment. He described the new job as great and said he was not surprised that Wind would try to remain in police work, even if it was not as a sworn officer.

"It doesn't surprise me that against big odds, he's going ahead," Cole said.

LAPD Cmdr. David Gascon said his agency would have no comment on Wind's hiring.

D'Anjou said community service officers wear uniforms of dark trousers and blue shirts, with a cloth badge designating them as civilian employees. He said most such employees are young people who want to get a feel for what police work is like before deciding whether to enter the field.

"Right now, he's working in the orientation phase," D'Anjou said. "We don't know ultimately where we will put him."

He said one option is putting Wind on park patrol, in which his duties would be to watch for rule infractions, but he would have to call police officers for any sort of enforcement. D'Anjou described Wind as very neat and bright.

"He's had enough negative publicity in his life," he said.

Two of the four officers charged in the King beating were convicted. Laurence M. Powell and Stacey C. Koon were sentenced to 30 months each in federal prison--sentences that may be greatly increased after an appeals court ruling last week. A third officer, Theodore J. Briseno, was acquitted in state and federal courts but was later fired from the Police Department. King filed a civil lawsuit and was awarded $3.8 million.

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