FBI Analysis of Tapes Asked by Prosecutors in Long Beach ‘Sting’
Los Angeles County prosecutors have asked the FBI for a frame-by-frame analysis of secretly recorded videotapes from which a white Long Beach police officer is accused of brutalizing black activist Don Carlos Jackson after a routine traffic stop, it was disclosed Tuesday.
Deputy Dist. Atty. Herb Lapin said he hopes the analysis will reveal more details about the manner in which an officer threw Jackson onto the hood of a police cruiser for handcuffing.
The disclosure came in interviews after defense attorneys entered pleas of not guilty on behalf of Police Officers Mark Dickey and Mark Ramsey at their arraignment in Long Beach Municipal Court. Dickey is accused of assaulting Jackson and both officers are charged with falsifying their police report of the Jan. 14 incident.
Object of Analysis
Lapin said he does not believe the analysis will shed any new light on the most controversial aspect of the encounter--the moment when Dickey appears to push Jackson’s head through a storefront window. Lapin said prosecutors have never believed that Dickey intended to break the window; otherwise they would have filed felony charges.
Prosecutors are interested in what came after the window broke and Jackson was taken over to the police car. Specifically, Lapin said, they want to determine what part of Jackson’s body struck the cruiser’s hood, causing a loud thump heard on the tape.
Jackson, a former Hawthorne police sergeant, has contended that his head was smashed against the hood and his fingers painfully bent as his hands were cuffed.
Dickey’s attorneys have said that Jackson threw his arm against the car as part of a “Gorgeous George"-type wrestler’s routine to overdramatize the force being applied and that he suffered no facial marks.
Taped by Three Cameras
If the sound recorded was Jackson’s head thumping against the car hood, prosecutors said, it would serve to buttress their contention that the officer was overly aggressive.
Various portions of the incident were recorded by three cameras. One was hidden in a rental car driven by off-duty federal corrections officer Jeffrey Hill, in which Jackson was a passenger. Another was in a chase car and a third was in a van containing a crew from NBC television.
The cameras were part of an attempt by Jackson to try to document allegations of racism and brutality against blacks by white Long Beach police officers. The videotapes show Dickey spouting obscenities when Jackson questions why their car was stopped, then allegedly manhandling the black man. Repeated televising of the videotape has caused a nationwide uproar that has made Don Jackson a minor celebrity.
Jackson filed a claim against the City of Long Beach last week, asking for unspecified damages on the basis of “deprivations of federal and state civil rights, false arrest, racism, brutality, assault and battery” and other allegations that fill more than a page.
Officers on Leave
Dickey and Ramsey have taken stress-related leave from the police force. Neither appeared for the arraignment and they were represented by their attorneys. Judge James L. Wright set a June 29 pretrial hearing date.
Ed George, Ramsey’s attorney, said the accused officers are “optimistic. They’re bearing up under the strain.”
Albert C. S. Ramsey, Dickey’s attorney and unrelated to Officer Ramsey, said that the trial defense will assert that the late-night traffic stop in a high-crime area was particularly dangerous because a passenger suddenly and inexplicably got out of the car.
“There is trouble afoot and they have to take charge,” attorney Ramsey said. “That potentially was a life-and-death situation.”
While Dickey acknowledged discrepancies between scenes depicted in the videotape and the version he gave in his police report, attorney Ramsey said the report errors were inadvertent.