Was Roughed Up by Police, Former Bradley Aide Says
The former police liaison for Mayor Tom Bradley has filed a harassment complaint against two Los Angeles police officers who he claims pushed him around, illegally searched him and then wrote up a bogus traffic citation.
Kerman Maddox, a member of the local board of the National Assn. for the Advancement of Colored People, alleges that the unidentified officers threw him against a fence in front of his Southwest Los Angeles house and then subjected him to a “very aggressive felony search” without once telling him why they were stopping him. After more than 15 minutes of being roughed up and verbally abused by the two officers, he said, they finally told him that they stopped him for running a red light, gave him a citation and left.
Police are investigating his complaint. The traffic citation was dismissed this week by a Municipal Court judge who noted that the officers did not stop Maddox until he was more than half a mile from the site of the alleged traffic violation.
“This is a step in the right direction,” Maddox, a public relations consultant, said Tuesday. “But I still hope that the officers will be disciplined. I’m not anti-police, but we’ve been hearing about these cases all too often recently.”
Maddox, 33, said he felt compelled to file the complaint because of a series of other alleged racial harassment incidents involving police in his Southwest Los Angeles neighborhood. A commander at Southwest Division has recommended that 18 officers be disciplined for violations ranging from lying to investigators to causing excessive property damage during an anti-gang raid on two apartment houses. The police officers allegedly destroyed furniture, smashed windows, ripped appliances from walls and terrorized residents for more than two hours during the August raid.
“This goes beyond me,” Maddox said. “It goes on throughout South-Central and Southwest Los Angeles.”
He also referred to the decision last month by a U.S. District Court judge, who ordered Police Chief Daryl F. Gates to pay $170,000 to an East Los Angeles family that had been roughed up by police during a weapons search. The six police officers involved in the 1986 raid at the home of Jessie Larez were ordered to pay an additional $90,000 in damages.
Cmdr. William Booth, LAPD spokesman, said the department is conducting an investigation into Maddox’s complaint. If the officers are found guilty of misconduct, they could be reprimanded, suspended or fired, he said.
“We are looking into it,” Booth said. “But if Mr. Maddox is alleging that there is some institutional bias in this department or that any community is being treated differently by the Police Department, then it’s absolutely wrong.”
Maddox said he had just arrived at his LaSalle Avenue home on Nov. 6 when a police car pulled into his driveway behind him. The former Bradley aide, who serves as a Neighborhood Watch block captain, said he thought the police were stopping by to give him a report on neighborhood crime surveillance.
“So I started walking toward them and all of a sudden they started yelling and cursing and screaming at me,” Maddox said. “Then one of the officers spun me around and threw me up against the fence. The other officer searched my truck and took out my briefcase and wallet. I kept asking them what I did wrong but they wouldn’t tell me.”
Only after he was able to convince them that he knew several high-ranking police officers because of his former position in the mayor’s office did the police stop harassing him, Maddox said. “They said, ‘Oh, we didn’t know whether you were pro-police or anti-police,’ ” he said.
In his capacity as police liaison for Bradley, from 1985 to 1987, Maddox was responsible for helping the department obtain new equipment and work out budget problems. He also led the unsuccessful attempt last year to recall Councilman Robert Farrell.
“My job was to support law enforcement and I will continue to do so,” Maddox said. “But when you are the victim of this kind of harassment, something has to be done about it.”