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.

News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Armstrong, left, and Bain's writing credits include Peep Show, Fresh Meat, and The Old Guys
TVThe pair have presented their view of 21st-century foibles in shows such as Peep Show and Fresh Meat
Arts and Entertainment
Keys to success: Andrew and Julian Lloyd Webber
arts + entsMrs Bach had too many kids to write the great man's music, says Julian Lloyd Webber
Sport
footballMan City manager would have loved to have signed Argentine
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
News
people
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Hand out press photograph/film still from the movie Mad Max Fury Road (Downloaded from the Warner Bro's media site/Jasin Boland/© 2014 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.)
films'You have to try everything and it’s all a process of elimination, but ultimately you find your path'
Arts and Entertainment
Imelda Staunton as Dolores Umbridge in the Harry Potter films
books

New essay by JK Rowling went live on Pottermore site on Friday

News
people

Top Gear presenter is no stranger to foot-in-mouth controversy

News
Russia Today’s new UK channel began broadcasting yesterday. Discussions so far have included why Britons see Russia as ‘the bad guy’
news

New UK station Russia Today gives a very bizarre view of Britain

Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Benedict Cumberbatch at the premiere of The Imitation Game at the BFI London Film Festival
filmsKeira Knightley tried to miss The Imitation Game premiere to watch Bake Off
News
i100
Sport
Enner Valencia
footballStriker has enjoyed a rapid rise to fame via winning the title with ‘The Blue Ballet’ in Ecuador
Arts and Entertainment
A top literary agent has compared online giant Amazon to Isis
arts + entsAndrew Wylie has pulled no punches in criticism of Amazon
Arts and Entertainment
Charlie Sheen said he would
tv

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

Mobile Developer (.NET / C# / Jason / Jquery / SOA)

£40000 - £65000 per annum + bonus + benefits + OT: Ampersand Consulting LLP: M...

Humanities Teacher - Greater Manchester

£22800 - £33600 per annum: Randstad Education Manchester Secondary: The JobAt ...

Design Technology Teacher

£22800 - £33600 per annum: Randstad Education Manchester Secondary: Calling al...

Foundation Teacher

£100 - £125 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: EYFS Teachers - East Essex...

Day In a Page

Bryan Adams' heartstopping images of wounded British soldiers to go on show at Somerset House

Bryan Adams' images of wounded soldiers

Taken over the course of four years, Adams' portraits are an astonishing document of the aftermath of war
The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

Commons debate highlights growing cross-party consensus on softening UK drugs legislation, unchanged for 43 years
The camera is turned on tabloid editors in Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter'

Gotcha! The camera is turned on tabloid editors

Hugh Grant says Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter' documentary will highlight issues raised by Leveson
Fall of the Berlin Wall: It was thanks to Mikhail Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell

Fall of the Berlin Wall

It was thanks to Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell
Halloween 2014: What makes Ouija boards, demon dolls, and evil clowns so frightening?

What makes ouija boards and demon dolls scary?

Ouija boards, demon dolls, evil children and clowns are all classic tropes of horror, and this year’s Halloween releases feature them all. What makes them so frightening, decade after decade?
A safari in modern Britain: Rose Rouse reveals how her four-year tour of Harlesden taught her as much about the UK as it did about NW10

Rose Rouse's safari in modern Britain

Rouse decided to walk and talk with as many different people as possible in her neighbourhood of Harlesden and her experiences have been published in a new book
Welcome to my world of no smell and odd tastes: How a bike accident left one woman living with unwanted food mash-ups

'My world of no smell and odd tastes'

A head injury from a bicycle accident had the surprising effect of robbing Nell Frizzell of two of her senses

Matt Parker is proud of his square roots

The "stand-up mathematician" is using comedy nights to preach maths to big audiences
Paul Scholes column: Beating Manchester City is vital part of life at Manchester United. This is first major test for Luke Shaw, Angel Di Maria and Radamel Falcao – it’s not a game to lose

Paul Scholes column

Beating City is vital part of life at United. This is first major test for Shaw, Di Maria and Falcao – it’s not a game to lose
Frank Warren: Call me an old git, but I just can't see that there's a place for women’s boxing

Frank Warren column

Call me an old git, but I just can't see that there's a place for women’s boxing
Adrian Heath interview: Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room

Adrian Heath's American dream...

Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room
Simon Hart: Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

Manuel Pellegrini’s side are too good to fail and derby allows them to start again, says Simon Hart
Isis in Syria: A general reveals the lack of communication with the US - and his country's awkward relationship with their allies-by-default

A Syrian general speaks

A senior officer of Bashar al-Assad’s regime talks to Robert Fisk about his army’s brutal struggle with Isis, in a dirty war whose challenges include widespread atrocities