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Man Beaten on Videotape Is Charged

Suspected car thief Stanley Miller is accused of joyriding and evading arrest in June incident.

August 14, 2004|Richard Winton | Times Staff Writer

Stanley Miller, the suspected car thief whose beating by a Los Angeles police officer with a flashlight was caught on videotape and broadcast nationwide, was charged Friday with joyriding and evading arrest in the incident.

The June 23 beating in Compton at the end of a half-hour car chase and short foot pursuit sparked community outrage and a Los Angeles Police Department investigation marred by conflicting stories among the eight officers involved.

A separate investigation is underway into the accuracy of the account of eight L.A. County deputy sheriffs who were present when Miller was subdued.

Miller, who previously has been convicted of auto theft and possession of drugs, faces five years and eight months in prison if convicted of the new charges.

A hearing on a motion to revoke his parole was delayed Friday, and he remained in Los Angeles County Jail. The eight officers and eight deputies whose actions are being reviewed remain on duty, with some assigned to their homes.

"Obviously, the law hasn't dealt with police officers yet," said Mark Werksman, Miller's attorney. "Mr. Miller is still in jail and the others are reveling at the beach. That may change the other way."

LAPD Chief William J. Bratton has set an Aug. 23 deadline to finish his investigation.

A police report of the arrest reviewed by The Times on Friday reflected little of the actions of Officer John Hatfield, who was seen on video kicking at Miller, striking him 11 times with a flashlight and then kneeing him.

Officer Michael Connor wrote in his report that the pursuit concluded when "officers caught up to defendant and a use of force ensued."

The videotape shows officers chasing Miller along Compton Creek. Officer Phillip Watson draws and then re-holsters his handgun before tackling Miller, who has raised both hands. Officer David Hale then tackles Miller before Hatfield kicks and pummels the suspect with the flashlight.

The police report, written the day of the arrest, has become a key part of the investigation. In his report, Connor also notes: "Officer Hale recovered red wire strippers from defendant's front right pocket."

According to sources, Hatfield has told investigators he used the flashlight because he heard Hale yell "Gun!" -- a statement supported by three other officers.

Hale told investigators he did that because he felt a hard object in Miller's pocket. That object, according to the report, was a pair of wire cutters.

Since the report was written, however, Officer Peter Bueno has told investigators the wire cutters were found in the white Toyota Camry that Miller had been driving, according to sources.

"The report contains an outright lie," Werksman said Friday.

Miller filed a $25-million claim against the city, alleging that the blows left him with signs of brain damage.

"His medical condition appears to be improving," Werksman said.

Bratton has consistently maintained that Miller's injuries were limited to scrapes and bruises.

Jane Robison, a spokeswoman for Los Angeles County Dist. Atty. Steve Cooley, said her office filed charges to ensure that Miller would not go free Friday, even if the Board of Prison Terms had decided not to revoke his parole.

The parole revocation hearing was delayed until the criminal charges were resolved, said Tip Kindel, a spokesman for the Board of Prison Terms.

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