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by charles amsellem Thursday, Jul. 31, 2003 at 1:40 AM

This article and cartoon were originally posted in July 2002 soon after the Donovan Jackson incident. The work has precient relevency in light of the recent mistrial. cartoon © 2002 by charles amsellem. activists may reproduce for non profit use only. all other rights reserved.

brutality_web_final.jpg, image/jpeg, 571x1800


by charles amsellem

comic c 2002 all rights reserved

"Handcuff them! Handcuff them!" shouted more than 100 protesters who gestured to the police shadowing them on Tuesday July 9, 2002. The group gathered at Inglewood City Hall demanding that they wouldn't leave until they spoke to the mayor. Their outrage was about the videotaped police brutality in their city involving 3 year inglewood police dept veteran, Jeremy J. Morse, 24, and a 16 year old boy named Donovan Jackson. The already famous footage, which has many remembering the battery that Rodney King recieved in 1991 continues to galvanize the community as more videotaped beatings and assaults are surfacing in other parts of the country.

According the the police, Jackson and his father Coby Chavis Jr were investigated for expired licence tags while stopping at a local gas station. The ensuing events culminated in the 16 year old being slammed against a police cruiser and punched by Morse while he was subdued and handcuffed. The Sherriff's dept denies his father's claim that they were racially profiled.

Deputy Carlos Lopez's written report, failed to record Morse's blows or his allegations that Jackson squeezed his testicles. It did record the policemen's frustration with the teenager for not complying with their commands. Jackson's cousin, Talibah Shakir, a sixth grade teacher, says that because of his impairment, "You tell him something and he doesn't get it right then...He's slow to react." Jackson's disability makes it very difficult to process more than one statement at a time.

Jackson was arrested for interfering with a police officer, treated for injuries and subsequently released. Morse was suspended with pay since the incident and was recently brought up on charges. Najee Ali, one of the organizers of the demonstration claimed that the rally at city hall wasn't about race so much as a pattern of police abuse where they feel free to beat up anybody in minority neighborhoods.

Erin Aubry, a writer published in the LA Weekly, had this to say about the uproar surrounding the videotape: "It's become the natural order of things; in the police-abuse equasion, we always seem to end up with zero or less. I say we as an inglewood resident and black person who knows more black males with unpleasant police encounters than I can count on two hands."

Another thing this incident has in common with the Rodney King one, is Morse's attorney, John Barnett, who defended Theodore Bresino and got him a state court aquittal on charges stemming from his role in the savage King beating. Jeremy Morse's record has a history of violence. In his 3 year history at the Inglewood police dept., at least six other people accused him of misconduct. One involved Neilson Williams, who says he was beaten by Morse and other cops after attending a picnic in Ashwood Park. "They almost beat me to death," said Williams, who is a gang councilor.

Roberto Fransisco Willis and Lance Elliot Eaton were arrested by Morse and his partner on drug charges. Allegedly, they were both beaten, also while handcuffed, and Willis had his eye teeth knocked out. After reporting these incidents to the watch commander, no action was taken.

This police culture of silence is what allows crimes like the Rodney King travesty, the Rampart scandal, and now this cowardly incident involving a handcuffed kid. These crimes go on unchecked all the time until they are videotaped or uncovered when a corrupt police officer is busted and cops a plea. Examining the events surrounding the Rampart scandal illustrate this point perfectly.

Ex-Rampart cop, Raphael Perez was arrested in 1998 for stealing 8 pounds of cocaine from a police evidence locker. In exchange for a lighter sentence, Perez plead guilty and cut a deal where he alleges improper shootings, evidence planting, false arrests, witness intimidation, beatings, theft, drug dealing, and perjury were rampant at Rampart.

It was uncovered that Javier Ovando was paralyzed when Perez and his partner repeatedly shot him while he was unarmed. He was framed and convicted and a firearm was planted at the scene. The resulting perjuries in court sealed his fate to 24 years in prison. Although some cops were fired, 40 others were disciplined, many with mere reprimands or other light actions, and over 100 convictions were overturned, these actions were responding to only the tip of the iceberg according to police misconduct experts.

Misconduct and brutality were so routine that Rampart cops developed their own language for the activities. "Thumpings" were what they refered to beatings. If you were, "in the loop," that meant that you were willing to plant evidence and commit perjury to secure a conviction and "banana knocks" was the name for nightsticks. Mr Perez stated that most Rampart CRASH (the anti-gang unit) cops were totally in the loop.

It's ironic that former police chief Bernard Parks was widely disregarded by the police dept for being too much of a disciplinarian. Ironic, since he did a masterful job of containing the Rampart Scandal. Parks made no attempts to catch other corrupt cops in the act. Parks offered no immunity for any cops that came forward. Both of those tactics are central to any effective police corruption probe, and Parks knew it, since he came from internal affairs.

Thus, the Rampart scandal was nipped in the bud. The former chief gave the primary role for investigating the Rampart crimes to a former Rampart lieutenant who kept quiet about what was going on at the station house. Erwin Chemerinsky, USC professor of law, researched the scandal and came to the conclusion that, "Every attempt to have a better investigation, Parks thwarted." Professor Chemerinsky said that Parks and then mayor Richard Riordon couldn't have done a better job of preventing a wider investigation into the affair. As a matter of fact, prosecutors from the district attorney's office flatly accused the LAPD in court filings of withholding key documents such as arrest reports and witness statements.

Remarkably, the Police Protective League accused Parks of being too tough in disciplining cops and going overboard in investigating the Rampart scandal. In fact, his disbanding of the CRASH unit on March 3, 2000 may be the only above board thing that he did in the whole mess.

Parks was promoted to the chief of police from the internal affairs division. While dispised by much of the LAPD, internal affairs doesnt enforce as much as it should. You dont move up in the office unless you play ball up to a point. But that can also be said of the entire criminal justice system.

US 9th Circuit Court of Appeals judge, Alex Kozinski admits that perjury and other misconduct in the singleminded zeal to convict are, "an open secret long shared by prosecutors, defense attorneys, and judges." Defense attorneys call the frequent perjury elicited by police officers 'testilying'. That's why the police can so easily get away with crimes that they are paid to stamp out with our tax dollars.

The only reason that this routine brutalization of a person of color has gotten the recent attention of the attorney general John Ashcroft, is because it was captured on video and made headlines. Where was his office when mentally impared, Samuel Rangel, was beaten to a pulp by a half dozen LA County Sherriffs while he was handcuffed? Where was our illustrious attorney general, or even our state or our county attorney general when Rangel was suffocated to death a month later by mental hospital orderlies? Some of the orderlies were moonlighting corrections officers as well.

Ismael Jimeniz, also while handcuffed was given such a savage beating by CRASH cop Brian Hewitt, that his blood splattered on Rampart walls; his bloodied vomit soaked a piece of carpet. True to Park's administrative rather than criminal slant in dealing with felonies committed by cops, Hewitt was quietly fired in 1999 with no charges filed.

The cowardly practice of torturing subdued, and handcuffed suspects is hardly uncommon. In 1997m Abner Louima was raped with a broken broom handle and recieved massive internal injuries while being held down, only to see most of the officers involved aquitted even after the story saw wide circulation. Officer Justin Volpe, who plead guilty for the crime and was allegedly the primary participant in this crime was sentenced to 30 years. This is an extremely rare instance of the courts acting harshly against police misconduct and was heavily dependent on Volpe's conceding guilt. While the conviction and sentencing of officer Charles Schwarz, who assisted Volpe in the crime was sentenced to 5 years, ALL of the other officers that also participated or conspired to conceal the crime got off scott free. It's true that officers Thomas Wiese and Thomas Bruder were convicted of obstructing justice, those convictions were eventually overturned.

While researching and composing this article and accompanying graphic, Jeremy Morse and his partner were brought up on charges and released on bail while, Mitchell Crooks, the amateur videographer that shot the footage of the misconduct, is in custody, allegedly on previous warrants. Through his attorney, he has made complaints of beatings and mistreatment while in police custody.

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Listed below are the 10 latest comments of 10 posted about this article.
These comments are anonymously submitted by the website visitors.
Teen in L.A. Beating Case Punched Deputy - Witness Enforcer Thursday, Jul. 31, 2003 at 2:20 PM
racism? Enforcer Thursday, Jul. 31, 2003 at 2:22 PM
jeremy morse is still broke mitchell crooks Thursday, Aug. 14, 2003 at 1:09 AM
mitchell is still white trash... djhava Thursday, Aug. 14, 2003 at 4:53 AM
what about you dad? jenna bush Monday, Aug. 18, 2003 at 10:37 PM
djhava is stupid mitchell Monday, Oct. 20, 2003 at 10:50 PM
mitch john Tuesday, Oct. 21, 2003 at 6:24 PM
An egomaniac... Parry Wednesday, Oct. 22, 2003 at 4:08 AM
Citizens for police Mitchell crooks Sunday, Nov. 16, 2003 at 5:27 AM

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