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Police Beating Victim Settles Suit

Compton man who was struck with a flashlight after leading officers on a chase in a stolen car will get $450,000 under tentative deal.

October 07, 2006|Greg Krikorian | Times Staff Writer

An African American car theft suspect whose videotaped beating by a Los Angeles police officer drew comparisons to the infamous assault on Rodney King has tentatively reached a $450,000 settlement with the city, his attorney said Friday.

Stanley Miller, 39, of Compton was kneed and then struck 11 times with a large metal flashlight by Officer John J. Hatfield on June 23, 2004. The beating, captured by a television news crew in a helicopter, occurred at the end of a high-speed, 21-mile car chase that began in South Los Angeles.

"I think it's a good, solid settlement in light of what occurred," said Miller's attorney, Brown Greene. "The city stepped up to the plate."

The settlement, which must still be ratified by the Los Angeles City Council, was reached days ago during mediation with an attorney representing the city, Greene said. That attorney could not be reached for comment.

Prosecutors declined to press charges against Hatfield or any other officers in the case, saying several believed Miller was armed and that his injuries were not serious. Prosecutors also said there was insufficient evidence that Hatfield, 37, acted without "lawful necessity."

But LAPD Chief William J. Bratton fired the officer in August 2005, shortly after a three-person Board of Rights found Hatfield guilty of using unnecessary force. Bratton also announced that the department would phase out the use of the large metal flashlights. And then-Mayor James K. Hahn and community activists criticized the decision not to prosecute anyone.

Miller was released from state prison early this year after serving 17 months in connection with the car theft and evading police. A military veteran, he is now living at a veterans facility and undergoing treatment for an alcohol problem, Greene said.

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