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S.D. Officer Charged in Brutality Case Is Fired

Times Staff Writer

One of two officers charged with beating and kicking a handcuffed drug suspect has been fired from the San Diego Police Department for an unrelated infraction, the department announced Tuesday.

David A. Nellis was discharged Feb. 8, according to a new police personnel list released Tuesday, and sources said he was terminated after more than four years on the force because of an incident in which he was “dishonest to his superiors.”

Senior officers declined to publicly discuss the infraction that led to the firing, other than to say it was not related to the complaint alleging excessive force and the criminal charges now pending against him and fellow Officer Mark L. Keyser.

Appeal Filed

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Nellis has filed an appeal of his termination to the city Civil Service Commission, but the commission on Tuesday declined to release the termination notice.

Neither the 29-year-old officer nor his attorney, Everett Bobbit, could be reached for comment Tuesday.

Nellis and Keyser, both of whom have pleaded not guilty, have been ordered to stand trial on a felony charge of assault by a police officer under the color of authority.

They allegedly assaulted Keith Anthony Beals, a 19-year-old construction-site cleanup worker who complained that the officers beat and kicked him after his hands were handcuffed behind his back and he was forced to lie on his stomach.

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The alleged assault occurred Sept. 18 after Beals, who was suspected of possessing cocaine, was chased by police officers to a cemetery in Southeast San Diego.

The officers were originally charged in November, taken out of field service and placed on light administrative duties.

Their preliminary hearing in January resulted in a stunned courtroom when four fellow San Diego police officers took the stand but invoked the Fifth Amendment, refusing to testify about the charges against Nellis and Keyser.

The four officers said that such testimony might incriminate them as well, and police officials now are reviewing their courtroom conduct to determine whether it violated any Police Department policies.

However, other officers testified that, while they did see Keyser striking Beals, they did not see Nellis hit anyone.

Keyser, 30, remains on administrative duty while senior officers continue to review the facts surrounding the alleged beating and determine whether some measure of internal discipline, if any, is warranted against him.


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