Man Acquitted of Charges in Police Chase

Times Staff Writer

A Mexican citizen who allegedly fired at a Huntington Park police officer last August was found not guilty of attempted murder Wednesday in Norwalk Superior Court after the officer testified that during the confrontation he had experienced flashbacks to a previous shoot-out.

Jose Silva Coria, 34, of Huntington Park, was shot six times by four Huntington Park police officers who fired 31 times. None of the officers was injured.

During the 2 1/2-week jury trial before Judge Ramona Godoy Perez, Coria said he never had a gun and authorities said no gun was ever found. Coria, who is disabled as a result of his injuries, was also found not guilty of assaulting an officer with a deadly weapon.

The prosecution charged that Coria fired a gun at Officer Henry F. Batterton in a car chase Aug. 10. The chase, which began after the officer attempted to pull Coria over for driving erratically and not having a rear license plate, ended when Coria crashed into a parked car in Huntington Park.

Batterton testified that he shot at Coria because he believed Coria had fired at him, and because Coria was in a semi-crouching position with his right hand obscured. Because of the flashbacks, jurors decided the officer's testimony was "kind of shaky," said jury Foreman Phillip Flores of Hacienda Heights.

Coria's attorney, Frederic J. Warner of Beverly Hills, attributed the muzzle flashes and noises Batterton said he witnessed to backfires from Coria's van.

Coria testified that he never used a gun, and that he fled from the officer because he was "scared." He was shot six times in the chest, shoulder, both arms, left leg and right foot.

Deputy Dist. Atty. Lawrence C. Morrison said he could understand why jurors decided Coria was not guilty of attempted murder, but said that he believed he had presented sufficient evidence to justify a conviction on the assault charge.

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