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Police Officer: ‘I Haven’t Beaten Anyone This Bad in a Long Time’

March 19, 1991 GMT

LOS ANGELES (AP) _ A policeman involved in the beating of an unarmed black motorist told another officer he hadn’t ″beaten anyone this bad in a long time,″ according to a transcript released Monday.

″You just had a big time use of force,″ Sgt. Stacey Koon told a police dispatcher after the beating of Rodney G. King after a car chase March 3.

The transcript released by the Police Department contains messages between the officers transmitted by portable computers in their squad cars.

A police official investigating the assault also said officers sent a computer message that may involve a racially edged remark, making a joke about the film ″Gorillas in the Mist.″

The ″Gorillas in the Mist″ remark apparently referred to a description of a domestic trouble call that happened prior to the arrest of King. The computer message was sent from a squad car carrying two of the officers charged in the case. The message was sent 16 minutes before the pursuit that resulted in the arrest and beating of King.

Koon and three other officers were indicted in the beating, which was videotaped by a resident from his balcony and shown nationwide on television news shows. The message was sent from a squad car carrying two of the officers charged in the case.

After a report that officers were in pursuit of a white Hyundai refusing to yield, there was a pause of approximately nine minutes in the transcript, at which point a report from Koon came in, saying, ″You just had a big-time use of force ... tazed and beat the suspect of CHP pursuit, big time.″

The response from headquarters was, ″Oh well ... I’m sure the lizard didn’t deserve it ... ha ha I’ll let them know OK.″

Koon responded, ″I’m gonna drop by the station for a fresh Taser and darts ... please have the desk have one ready.″

A Taser is a stun device that uses darts.

A minute later, a message was received from a police car occupied by Officers Laurence Powell and Timothy Wind. The message was simply: ″Oops.″

Another unit responded, ″Oops what?″

A minute later the response came: ″I haven’t beaten anyone this bad in a long time.″

To that, the second unit said, ″Oh not again ... why for you do that. ... I thought you agreed to chill out for awhile ... what did he do?″

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The Powell-Wind car responded, ″ I think he was dusted ... many broken bones later ... after the pursuit.″ ″Dusted″ is slang for use of PCP, a hallucinogen.

The second unit asked, ″What pursuit ...′ and the transmission ended there.

Cmdr. Rick Dinse, who is heading a police investigation of the beating, said an audiotape of radio communications that night ends with a call for an ambulance.

When asked what for, an unknown voice yells out, ″Victim of a beating.″ A person then is heard laughing, Dinse said.

He said the audiotape documents that someone at the scene knew that something very severe had happened.

Koon, 40, Powell, 28, Wind, 30, and Officer Theodore Briseno, 38, were indicted on felony charges of assault and assault under color of authority. The policemen were ordered to appear Friday before Superior Court Judge Gary Klausner.

Hundreds of police officers and employees gave a rousing welcome to work Monday for Police Chief Daryl F. Gates, and Gates responded with his strongest vow yet to keep his post.

Department workers lined the hallway to Gates’ office in the downtown Parker Center, cheering, applauding and chanting, ″Gates must stay 3/8″

Gates, who became teary-eyed during the 20-minute demonstration, said it had convinced him once and for all that ″I am not going anywhere. I am staying.″

A chorus of politicians and civil rights activists have called for Gates to resign over the King beating.

Department employees carried yellow ribbons and called out, ″Hang in there chief,″ ″We’re behind you chief,″ and ″We love you chief.″

Later, Gates made his strongest statement yet that he will remain in the position he has held for 13 years.

″I will be here. I will stay here and I will fight any attempt to get rid of me. I will fight it with all the effort I have,″ he told a news conference.

Gates told reporters that he believes that King and his family deserve an apology.

″We regret what took place,″ he said, adding, ″I hope he (King) gets his life straightened out. Perhaps this will be the vehicle to move him down the road to a good life instead of the life he’s been involved in for such a long time.″

King, 25, was on parole for a 1989 robbery conviction when he was stopped and beaten in suburban Lake View Terrace.

He was recuperating Monday following surgery at an undisclosed hospital to repair broken cranial bones, said his attorney, Steve Lerman.

Another King attorney, Bob Rentzer, said he resented Gates’ comment about his client.

″It’s a misnomer to imply that his life in general has had any stigma by virtue of one isolated incident,″ Rentzer said. ″That one incident does not make a man.

Regarding Gates’ contention that he has adequately apologized to King and his family, Rentzer said: ″If there’s an apology to be made it should be made directly and not indirectly through the media.″

Gates also said he had read an opinion piece written by San Jose Police Chief Joe McNamara calling for his resignation. Gates said he was surprised that ″someone who lives so far away would take the time to comment on this.″

″I have not been attuned to Joe McNamara in the past,″ Gates said. ″I think he’s a damned oddball.″

As for U.S. Sen. Joseph Biden, D-Del., who also called for his departure, Gates said the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee ″probably heard it said somewhere else and is repeating it.″

Meanwhile, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office continued to gather evidence against 11 other officers at the scene of the beating. But prosecutors won’t present the evidence to the county grand jury until next week at the earliest, said Sandi Gibbons, spokeswoman for District Attorney Ira Reiner.