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The Nation

No Charges for Officers Who Struck Suspect

January 31, 2003|From Associated Press

OKLAHOMA CITY — A prosecutor said Thursday that he will not bring charges against two police officers who hit a man repeatedly with their batons in an arrest caught on videotape last summer.

Oklahoma County Dist. Atty. Wes Lane said the force used against Donald Pete was "not excessive under the law but, rather, was completely appropriate."

Officers Greg Driskill and E.J. Dyer approached Pete on July 8 after an anti-prostitution activist called police about a couple having sex in a van in a church parking lot.

The activist's videotape of the arrest showed the two white officers striking Pete, who is black, more than two dozen times.

The footage was broadcast on television news shows nationwide.

Pete has filed a lawsuit seeking $7.7 million in damages. His attorney, Roland Combs III, said he had anticipated Lane's decision.

"It's a sad day in Oklahoma City," Combs said.

Roosevelt Milton, president of the local chapter of the NAACP, said the prosecutor's decision not to file charges "adds to the hopelessness and helplessness people feel with interacting with the police department."

Earlier this month, federal prosecutors decided they would not bring civil rights charges against the two officers.

Pete, 51, pleaded no contest in October to charges of destroying evidence, engaging in a lewd act and resisting arrest.

Driskill said Pete tried to eat a bag of marijuana, apparently in an effort to get rid of the evidence.

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