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Both Sides in Beating Case Tout 2nd Tape

July 20, 2002|ANNA GORMAN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

A grainy surveillance tape depicting a scuffle in the moments before Inglewood police struck a handcuffed 16-year-old was described Friday night by attorneys on both sides as supporting their version of events.

Attorneys for two Inglewood police officers who were indicted this week in connection with the July 6 incident, also partially captured on a bystander's videotape, say the second tape broadcast Friday on television helps exonerate their clients by showing they were trying mightily to restrain a violent Donovan Jackson.

"What it shows is that Donovan was involved in a violent struggle with two or three police officers before he was handcuffed," said John Barnett, attorney for Inglewood Police Officer Jeremy J. Morse, who is charged with assault under color of authority.

Milton Grimes, attorney for Donovan's father, Coby Chavis, disagreed.

"I'd be glad to have a jury interpret this," he said. "That video does not exonerate these officers. That video incriminates them 100%

Morse was videotaped on July 6 slamming Jackson onto the trunk of a patrol car and punching him in the face. The incident occurred at an Inglewood gas station where sheriff's deputies were citing Chavis for driving with a suspended license and expired registration tags.

That tape has been played repeatedly on national television. The second tape was taken by a surveillance camera trained on the gas pumps at the service station and shows figures that are difficult to identify moving in and out of view before Jackson was handcuffed.

Morse and Officer Bijan Darvish were indicted by a grand jury Wednesday and pleaded not guilty Thursday. Darvish is charged with filing a false police report. They are each free on $25,000 bail.

Darvish has been placed on paid administrative leave following his indictment, authorities said Friday.

Morse was placed on paid administrative leave after the videotape was aired on television and caused controversy nationwide. Both of the officers will remain on leave "pending the final outcome of the investigation," said Inglewood Police Chief Ronald C. Banks.

Darvish's attorney, Ronald G. Brower, said he thinks the second tape "is helpful to the police officers.... It sets in perspective what you see on the citizen's video."

The tape, he said, "confirms material that Officer Darvish put in his report, suggesting he wrote a truthful report."

Los Angeles County district attorney's spokeswoman Sandi Gibbons said, "We're not going to comment on the evidence in this case outside the courtroom."

Both officers are scheduled to appear at an Inglewood courthouse Aug. 13 for pretrial motions and to set a trial date.

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Times staff writers Jessica Garrison and Steve Berry contributed to this report.

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