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Ex-LAPD Officer Acquitted of Civil Rights Violations

February 19, 2002
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Ex-LAPD Officer Acquitted of Civil Rights Violations

Associated Press

LOS ANGELES (AP) - Federal jurors acquitted a former police officer of violating the civil rights of an armed ex-felon that he stopped for an alleged traffic violation.

Douglas Beard, 31, was indicted on felony conspiracy charges to violate civil rights law and a misdemeanor for depriving rights under color of authority.

"We're very gratified about the jury's decision," defense lawyer Ira Salzman said after the weeklong trial concluded Tuesday. If convicted, Beard could have faced up to 11 years in prison.

Beard, who was dismissed over the arrest, will now seek reinstatement. He had been working as a bottled water delivery man since leaving the LAPD.

The disputed stop occurred on June 20, 1995, when Beard and his 77th Street Division training officer, Edward P. Ruiz, 36, pulled over a car driven by Thyjuan Taplin in South Central Los Angeles.

After being ordered out of his car, Taplin ran, tossing a gun away. He was later captured and booked for being a felon in possession of a gun.

Taplin's lawyer argued during a preliminary hearing that his client could not have been pulled over for running a stop sign because there was no sign.

When the judge refused to dismiss the charge, Taplin negotiated a deal and was sentenced to 16 months in prison.

Ruiz told Beard that Taplin had run the stop sign and Beard believed him.

Ruiz, who is no longer a police officer, is serving a 10-month sentence after pleading guilty to arresting another man on a false weapons charge.

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