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Los Angeles chief fires officer who struck suspect with flashlight

August 07, 2005
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Los Angeles chief fires officer who struck suspect with flashlight

The Associated Press

LOS ANGELES- The police chief on Friday fired an officer who was videotaped last year beating a suspected car thief with a flashlight.

Police Chief William Bratton agreed with last month's recommendation by the department's Board of Rights that John Hatfield be dismissed for using unnecessary force.

Hatfield struck the suspect 11 times with a flashlight after a high-speed chase on June 23, 2004. The suspect, Stanley Miller, was down on the ground, with officers swarming around him, when Hatfield hit him.

Hatfield, who is Hispanic, was videotaped by television news cameras hitting Miller, who is black. No other officers struck Miller but the incident drew comparisons to the 1991 videotaped beating of black motorist Rodney King.

The district attorney's office declined to file criminal charges against Hatfield, citing lack of evidence.

A message left with Michael Stone, an attorney who has represented Hatfield, was not immediately returned.

In a letter sent to Bratton on Thursday, Stone requested a stay of the board's decision, saying "nobody who knew much about the true facts of this case, or about John, expected him to be removed."

Hatfield, 36, had been on paid "home assignment."

Four other officers who were at the scene received unpaid suspensions ranging from four to 15 days. A fifth officer was placed on paid home assignment pending a Board of Rights hearing.

In January, Bratton pushed through a new policy prohibiting officers from using their flashlights as weapons except in emergency situations.

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