California beating case - WECT TV6-WECT.com:News, weather & sports Wilmington, NC

7.29.03

California beating case

After three days of deliberating a jury was unable to reach a decision on whether former Inglewood officer Jeremy Morse was guilty of using excessive force against a black teenager. Protestors outside the courtroom expressed their opinions during the case, "the decision that this man has not been found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt is just wrong!"

The charges came after video captured teenager Donovan Jackson's arrest at a Los Angeles area gas station last summer. Morse can be seen slamming the then 16-year-old to the trunk of the car and then punching him in the face.

The defense maintained the officer was just reacting to the teenager grabbing his groin, "I think that after the evidence was developed, that videotape has less persuasiveness than originally thought." 

Seven jurors voted for a guilty verdict, five voted not guilty. But the jurors did reach one unanimous decision: they found Morse's former partner not guilty of falsifying a police report.

"We have a right to be angry but we are going to control our anger. We are going to control our anger in a constructive way." Those words from more protestors after the decision was reached.

Some community leaders are comparing the situation to the Rodney King verdicts that sparked the devastating L.A. riots of 1992. But the city has launched a "peace after the verdicts" campaign. That, along with an increased police presence, so far, seems to be working. 

A hearing on whether to have a retrial is scheduled for September 22nd. Morse has already been fired from his job with the Inglewood Police Department.

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