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LAPD to hold meetings on use-of-force policies

Chief Charlie Beck orders 21 stations to hold forums after taped incidents raise public concerns.

September 10, 2012|Joel Rubin
  • Ronald Weekley Jr. and his sister Lashan Smith listen as Pastor Horace Allen of First Baptist Church in Venice speaks to the media about Weekley's rough treatment by LAPD officers. Weekley, a skateboarder, was punched in the head several times during the incident.
Ronald Weekley Jr. and his sister Lashan Smith listen as Pastor Horace Allen… (Jay L. Clendenin, Los Angeles…)

Facing public concern over three videotaped incidents in which police used serious force to subdue people, the Los Angeles Police Department plans to host a series of community meetings to discuss with the public why officers use force and how the department investigates such encounters.

LAPD Chief Charlie Beck ordered meetings held by the department's 21 stations throughout the city, Lt. Andrew Neiman said.

The dates of the meetings have not yet been set, Neiman said, adding that he expected them to occur in the near future "because it is such a hot topic right now."

The meetings will give the public an opportunity to ask questions about the three incidents that reignited old concerns about Los Angeles officers using excessive force.

In one of the arrests, which occurred several weeks ago, a cellphone video showed four officers tackling a 20-year-old Venice skateboarder who they said resisted arrest. One officer hit him in the face.

Then a video emerged in which an LAPD officer in the San Fernando Valley was shown slamming a handcuffed woman to the ground before appearing to give his partner a fist bump. The woman, a nurse who was pulled over for holding a cellphone while driving, suffered large bruises to her face and body.

Word of a third troubling encounter surfaced when The Times recently reported a woman had died during a confrontation in July outside her South Los Angeles home. In that incident, several officers struggled to take the woman into custody and place her into the caged rear seat of a police car. The car's digital recording equipment captured a female officer verbally berating the woman and stomping on her genitals during the struggle, according to police.

The meetings also will give police officials the chance to explain how the department investigates serious uses of force by its officers. The way the department conducts its investigations, which are handled by a special team of detectives and take several months to complete, is widely regarded by law enforcement experts to be one of the most exhaustive in the country.

Less serious levels of force, however, are evaluated by an officer's commander and do not undergo as rigorous a review.

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joel.rubin@latimes.com

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