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Beck: Releasing video of LAPD altercation could harm criminal case

LAPD chief: Releasing video of altercation involving officer charged with assault could harm criminal case

Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck on Tuesday defended his decision not to publicly release a video showing an altercation involving an officer who has been charged with assault, saying doing so could jeopardize the criminal case.

Beck acknowledged the public interest in viewing the footage of the Oct. 16 incident -- which was captured by a security camera posted on a South L.A. building -- but said Dist. Atty. Jackie Lacey "has been very, very clear that she does not want that video out there."

Releasing the footage before the officer's trial, Beck said, could taint the jury pool or "otherwise interfere" with the case.

"My desire here is justice," Beck told reporters Tuesday. "I know that there are other things that could be met by the release of the video. ... But I want to get justice. And I think that's what this city deserves."

Beck's comments came a day after Officer Richard Garcia was charged with assault for using what prosecutors described as unlawful force when arresting Clinton Alford Jr. last fall. 

Garcia, 34, pleaded not guilty to the charge. 

Police officials who saw the video of the arrest described a disturbing scenario in earlier interviews with The Times. The sources said the video showed an officer kicking or stomping on Alford, and later hitting him repeatedly with his elbows in the head and upper body. 

One source called the video "horrific." Another said the officer resembled a "football player kicking a field goal."

Alford, the sources said, had voluntarily surrendered and was not resisting at the time. By the end of the altercation, the sources said, Alford's body was limp. 

On Tuesday, Beck said that after watching the video, he called Lacey and asked her office "to not only look at this case but to file criminal charges."

"I was shocked by the content of the video," he said.

Garcia, who has been with the LAPD for a decade, has not worked in the field since the October incident. Three other officers and a sergeant who were also involved in the arrest remain out of the field and assigned to their homes, pending ongoing internal affairs investigations by the LAPD.

Beck declined to discuss the actions of the other officers but said they were "not nearly as culpable as Garcia."

Follow @katemather for more LAPD news.

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