Anger over King case sentences

MOST Americans looked forward to the sentencing of two Los Angeles police officers involved in the Rodney King beating as the final chapter of an ugly scandal. But yesterday it became evident that the book is not completely closed.

Outraged black leaders made clear they felt the officers' 30-month sentences serve only to emphasise a key issue at the core of the King affair: that the US judicial system appears to be prejudiced in favour of whites.

Although peaceful, Los Angeles reverberated with condemnation from those angered by the startling leniency of US District Judge John Davies, who could have sent the officers to prison for up to 10 years and fined them up to dollars 250,000 ( pounds 167,700) for violating Mr King's civil rights.

Maxine Waters, a black congresswoman whose constituency lies in the heart of riot-torn south-central Los Angeles, described the outcome as a 'kiss on the wrist'. Benjamin Chavis, executive director of the National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People, said the sentences displayed a double standard of justice, 'a wanton disparity, discrimination and inequity based on race'.

Erik Rasmussen, a juror who helped convict the officers, also spoke out - saying the officers deserved between five and seven years. Even a subdued Rodney King, who is bringing a dollars 50m lawsuit against the city authorities, made a rare television appearance, condemning the punishments as inadequate. If he had been in the dock, he remarked sourly, he would probably have got 'ten or 15 years'.

The anger caused by the light prison terms, which were lower than federal sentencing guidelines, has been strongly underscored by comments by Judge Davies which were highly sympathetic to the defendants. Far from portraying them as brutal, he spoke warmly of the two men, paying tribute to their police records and family life.

The judge, a moderate conservative, said Rodney King 'constituted a threat' and bore much of the blame for the beating he received because he 'continued to disobey, even when struck by repeated blows'.

More importantly, he said the officers acted legally during almost all of the beating as King was resisting arrest, and were punished only for six of the dozens of blows he received. For many in a community that has watched the notorious amateur videotape of the beating many hundreds of times, such a conclusion caused amazement and dismay - not least because it suggests that it is acceptable for policemen to use violence against an unarmed but unco-operative suspect. Mr King suffered severe injuries, including a shattered cheekbone and broken leg after more than 50 blows from police batons and boots.

The judge's conclusions ensure that the controversy is likely to rumble on, and will be seen by many as an unresolved and nasty blemish in US race relations. The US Attorney's office in Los Angeles yesterday said it would consult the Attorney General, Janet Reno, over whether to appeal against the sentences. Federal prosecutors had wanted near-maximum sentences - 7-9 years for Laurence Powell, and 9-10 years for Stacey Koon, who directed the beating. Government sources last night indicated that an appeal was likely.

The light sentences mean that the case could have an explosive bearing on the trial of two young black men accused of beating the truck driver Reginald Denny. That attack is widely portrayed as a parallel to the King case. The black community will be watching to see if the courts are as lenient to Mr Denny's assailants as they were to Mr King's.

Voices
voicesGood for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, writes Grace Dent
Sport
The Pipes and Drums of The Scottish Regiments perform during the Opening Ceremony for the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games at Celtic Park on July 23, 2014 in Glasgow, Scotland.
Commonwealth GamesThe actor encouraged the one billion viewers of the event to donate to the children's charity
Sport
Karen Dunbar performs
Entertainers showcase local wit, talent and irrepressible spirit
Sport
Members of the Scotland deleagtion walk past during the opening ceremony of the 2014 Commonwealth Games at Celtic Park in Glasgow on July 23, 2014.
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Arts and Entertainment
The Tour de France peloton rides over a bridge on the Grinton Moor, Yorkshire, earlier this month
film
Life and Style
fashion Designs are part of feminist art project by a British student
News
Very tasty: Vladimir Putin dining alone, perhaps sensibly
news
Life and Style
Listen here: Apple EarPods offer an alternative
techAre custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?
Arts and Entertainment
Top guns: Cole advised the makers of Second World War film Fury, starring Brad Pitt
filmLt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a uniform
News
The University of California study monitored the reaction of 36 dogs
sciencePets' range of emotions revealed
News
Snoop Dogg pictured at The Hollywood Reporter Nominees' Night in February, 2013
people... says Snoop Dogg
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from Shakespeare in Love at the Noel Coward Theatre
theatreReview: Shakespeare in Love has moments of sheer stage poetry mixed with effervescent fun
News
Joining forces: young British men feature in an Isis video in which they urge Islamists in the West to join them in Iraq and Syria
newsWill the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?
Arts and Entertainment
The nomination of 'The Wake' by Paul Kingsnorth has caused a stir
books
News
i100
Life and Style
food + drinkZebra meat is exotic and lean - but does it taste good?
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

BI Manager - £50,000

£49000 - £55000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: My client is...

BI Project Manager - £48,000 - £54,000 - Midlands

£48000 - £54000 per annum + Benefits package: Progressive Recruitment: My clie...

VB.Net Developer

£35000 - £45000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: If you're pa...

SAP Business Consultant (SD, MM and FICO), £55,000, Wakefield

£45000 - £55000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: SAP Business...

Day In a Page

Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

Meet the US Army's shooting star

Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform
Climate change threatens to make the antarctic fur seal extinct

Take a good look while you can

How climate change could wipe out this seal
Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier for the terminally ill?

Farewell, my lovely

Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier?
Man Booker Prize 2014 longlist: Crowdfunded novel nominated for first time

Crowdfunded novel nominated for Booker Prize

Paul Kingsnorth's 'The Wake' is in contention for the prestigious award
Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster to ensure his meals aren't poisoned

Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster

John Walsh salutes those brave souls who have, throughout history, put their knives on the line
Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

A $25m thriller starring Sam Worthington to be made in God's Own Country
Will The Minerva Project - the first 'elite' American university to be launched in a century - change the face of higher learning?

Will The Minerva Project change the face of higher learning?

The university has no lecture halls, no debating societies, no sports teams and no fraternities. Instead, the 33 students who have made the cut at Minerva, will travel the world and change the face of higher learning
The 10 best pedicure products

Feet treat: 10 best pedicure products

Bags packed and all prepped for holidays, but feet in a state? Get them flip-flop-ready with our pick of the items for a DIY treatment
Commonwealth Games 2014: Great Scots! Planes and pipers welcome in Glasgow's Games

Commonwealth Games 2014

Great Scots! Planes and pipers welcome in Glasgow's Games
Jack Pitt-Brooke: Manchester City and Patrick Vieira make the right stand on racism

Jack Pitt-Brooke

Manchester City and Patrick Vieira make the right stand on racism
How Terry Newton tragedy made iron men seek help to tackle their psychological demons

How Newton tragedy made iron men seek help to tackle their psychological demons

Over a hundred rugby league players have contacted clinic to deal with mental challenges of game