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Last Updated: Thursday, 10 July, 2003, 22:33 GMT 23:33 UK
LA police trial hears testimony
Donovan Jackson being arrested
Like the Rodney King beating, the incident was captured on videotape
A teenager at the centre of allegations of police brutality in Los Angeles has told the court he can remember few details of the alleged assault.

Donovan Jackson said he remembered being hit by several officers before being pushed to the ground and then passed out when "one of them choked me".

One officer involved in the incident outside a city petrol station last year, which was caught on videotape, is on trial for assault in a trial which has echoes of the Rodney King beating case and the racial tensions it generated a decade ago.

A defence lawyer for Officer Jeremy Morse, who has since been sacked, argued that the black teenager had "put up a fight" and he challenged the 17-year-old's ability to give an accurate account of what had happened.

A second officer, Bijan Darvish, is accused of covering up the incident by filing a false report and has been suspended from the force.

The BBC's correspondent in the city, David Willis, says the case is being closely watched by civil rights leaders who see the trial as a litmus test of race relations in America.

It is being seen as an indication of whether anything has changed in Los Angeles since the Rodney King case, which sparked riots in 1992 which cost more than 50 people their lives.

Outside the court, several community leaders have already expressed indignation that of the 12 jurors hearing this case only one is black.

'Self-defence'

Filmed by a member of the public watching from a nearby window, the grainy video recording of the alleged assault shows Mr Jackson shortly after his arrest outside the Inglewood petrol station.

It shows him in handcuffs being lifted several feet off the ground and being slammed headfirst onto the back of a police patrol car before being punched in the face.

Jeremy Morse (L) listens while his lawyer, John Barnett, addresses the jury
Community leaders are following the trial closely
Mr Jackson, who was 16 at the time, said he had been afraid of the officers when he first saw them and felt it was wrong that they had asked him to get in their police car.

He and his father, Coby Chavis, had been stopped outside the petrol station on 6 July by officers wishing to examine their vehicle documents.

Asked by prosecutor Michael Kenneth Pettersen if he understood what had happened to him, Mr Jackson said "no" and appeared confused by many of the questions.

A defense lawyer for Mr Morse, John Barnett, suggested that Mr Jackson was an unreliable witness and it was also alleged that he had grabbed an officer's groin after being handcuffed.

Prosecutors say Mr Jackson was flailing his arms and legs in an attempt to stop the beating.

If convicted, Mr Morse faces up to three years in prison.


WATCH AND LISTEN
The BBC's David Willis in Los Angeles
"The pressure to convict these men may prove overwhelming"



SEE ALSO:
Protests over US police beating
13 Jul 02  |  Americas
Video shows LA police beating boy
09 Jul 02  |  Americas
LA at boiling point
30 Apr 02  |  Americas
Los Angeles marks 1992 riots
30 Apr 02  |  Americas
US admits torture concerns
16 Oct 99  |  Americas


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