LOS ANGELES - The Rev. Al Sharpton called Sunday for federal laws mandating the investigation of police abuse allegations in an attempt to curb what he called a national epidemic.
"There is a national issue of police misconduct and police brutality that must be addressed by the president himself," Sharpton said.
Sharpton said he traveled to Los Angeles to meet with the family of Donovan Jackson, a black teenager who was punched in the face by a white police officer in Inglewood during an arrest this month.
Sharpton, a civil rights activist whose National Action Network has an office in Los Angeles, also called for stiffer penalties for police convicted in such cases.
Inglewood Officer Jeremy Morse has been suspended with pay while an investigation is conducted. His attorney has said Jackson assaulted Morse first and the officer's response was justified.
Sharpton also expressed support for Mitchell Crooks, who videotaped the July 6 arrest of Jackson and later was jailed on unrelated warrants. Crooks "has done something of a national service and needs to be supported," Sharpton said.
Congresswoman Maxine Waters said she was leading an effort to raise $10,000 to cover legal fees for Crooks, a part-time disc jockey.
"We are going to see to it that Mr. Crooks has a legal defense," Waters said.
The Los Angeles Times has reported that another white officer struck Jackson before the videotape rolled.
Morse's partner, Officer Bijan Darvish, wrote in a police report obtained by the Times that he punched Jackson twice in the face before the teen was handcuffed because he was afraid the youth would hit him.
Crooks was convicted in Placer County of driving under the influence, hit and run and petty theft. He was flown to Auburn on Friday to serve a seven-month sentence.