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A Rebuttal by Inglewood Case Prosecution

August 05, 2003

Your July 31 editorial, "A Goal for Police," is wrong. There were several African Americans in the pool of prospective jurors. Unfortunately, most of them said they could not be fair if selected as jurors. The jurors who said they could not be fair were excused by the court for cause. When defense attorneys began excusing by peremptory challenge the few African American jurors left, prosecutors orally made a "Wheeler motion." That is a motion in which one side or the other complains to the court that jurors are being excused because of race. Judge William Hollingsworth denied our first motion, made after three African American jurors -- or 75% of African Americans in the pool of prospective jurors in the jury box -- were excused. The next juror excused by defense peremptory challenge was a young African American man who said he could be fair to both sides. We again made a "Wheeler motion" and the judge granted it. The jury, including the young man and at least four other members of minority groups, was selected.

It is outrageous that you would accuse the prosecutors of stupidity for not knowing what their witnesses would say. Sheriff's Cmdr. Charles Heal said exactly what we knew he would say: that former Inglewood Police Officer Jeremy Morse's body slam of a handcuffed, apparently unconscious, or at least limp, 16-year-old boy into the trunk of a police car was unnecessary and unreasonable. Those are the elements of assault by a police officer under color of authority. You have questioned the public prosecutors' ethics and insulted their professionalism. I could say the same about your editorial.

Sandi Gibbons

Public Information Officer

District Attorney's Office

Los Angeles County

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