LA Flashlight-Beaten Suspect Denies Police Story About Object
The Associated Press
LOS ANGELES - A black man beaten by police during a videotaped arrest denied that he was carrying wire cutters that were mistaken for a gun, as one officer reportedly contended.
Suspected car thief Stanley Miller told his lawyer Monday that he wasn't carrying any metal objects when he was struck 11 times with a flashlight as he lay on the ground after a chase last week, the Los Angeles Times reported Tuesday.
"If (police) came up with something, the information I'm getting is they either planted it on him or they're making it up," attorney Mark Werksman said after a jailhouse interview with Miller.
Werksman said Miller told him he was wearing sweat pants with loose pockets that would not hold his possessions, so he had his cell phone in one hand and $8 in cash in the other as he ran.
According to an account in the Times last week, John J. Hatfield, the officer who kicked Miller and struck him with the flashlight, told investigators he was trying to stun Miller after another officer, trying to handcuff Miller, felt a metal object in Miller's pants and yelled "gun." The object turned out to be wire cutters, the Times said, citing unidentified sources.
The confrontation has inflamed tensions in the city and prompted local and federal investigations. The case has been compared to the 1991 videotaped beating of Rodney King, which resulted in riots after four white officers were acquitted of state charges.
Police Chief William Bratton has not made any comment on whether Miller was carrying anything. Hatfield has declined to publicly discuss the incident.
Police said they spotted Miller running a stop sign in South Los Angeles last Wednesday and found that the car he was driving had been reported stolen. A nearly 30-minute car chase ended with a foot chase in Compton.
News helicopters showed Miller with his hands in the air and appearing to surrender at gunpoint when he was tackled by an officer. He was on the ground when Hatfield kicked and then hit him.
The eight officers involved in Miller's arrest have been placed on administrative duty, and three will be investigated for possible use of excessive force.
On Monday, Bratton met with the Rev. Al Sharpton to discuss the beating. The chief and the civil rights activists said they were making progress toward cooling racial tensions.
"Clearly, many of us around the country are outraged at what we saw in the video," Sharpton said. "But the outrage must lead to results where the citizens and police are protected."
Miller has a criminal record dating back to 1994 that includes car theft and forgery, records show. He was paroled in February after being convicted of trying to escape custody.
Miller remained in custody pending a parole violation hearing. He was expected to be charged with car theft, said Jane Robison, a spokeswoman for the district attorney's office.