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Jury Convicts Ex-Policeman in Beating of 2 in Pacoima : Courts: Lance L. Braun, a veteran of 21 years with the department, is guilty of using excessive force. But he contends that he acted in self-defense.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

A former Los Angeles Police Department officer was convicted Thursday of using excessive force when he beat two people on a Pacoima street corner last year.

Lance L. Braun, 42, was found guilty by a Los Angeles Superior Court jury on two felony charges of assaulting Theresa Carney and William Gable while on duty Aug. 2, 1990.

Braun, dressed in a gray pin-stripe suit, showed no emotion as the verdict was read. He left the courtroom silently.

Braun spent 21 years on the police force before retiring in April, shortly before charges were filed. He had been working out of the troubled Foothill Division, where four other officers face criminal charges in the March beating of motorist Rodney G. King.

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The incident involving Braun occurred after he ordered a group of people, including Carney and Gable, to leave the corner of Pala Avenue and Van Nuys Boulevard, which police consider a gathering place for illicit activity. Carney said that when they didn’t leave, Braun “jabbed” his baton at her, knocking the wind out of her. Gable said Braun hit him 10 or 15 times and kicked him.

Braun testified that he did nothing wrong and had acted in self-defense. He said he knocked Carney with his hip when she was “invading my space,” and hit Gable with his baton because Gable attacked him with a large bottle.

The jury deliberated for six hours after a 2 1/2-day trial. Jury foreman Tom Dittmar of South Pasadena said the panel was “unanimous in its feelings of the guilt of Officer Braun.”

Deputy Dist. Atty. Jodi B. Rafkin, who prosecuted the case, praised the verdict. “It shows the jury was able to take all the evidence, weigh it and use their common sense.”

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Larry H. Layton, attorney for Braun, said he was concerned that timing of the charges filed against his client--five weeks after the King incident--had worked against him. Still, he said, “I thought I could get a fair trial. Otherwise, I would not have let the case go to trial in this time and place.”

During the trial, Rafkin contended that Braun acted without provocation, while Layton questioned the credibility of Carney and Gable.

Dittmar said the jury noted that there was conflicting evidence, but was greatly influenced by the testimony of Los Angeles Police Officer Scott Kennedy, Braun’s partner on the day of the incident. While Kennedy said he did not witness the beating, he testified that when he and Braun were summoned back to the Foothill station after the incident, Braun advised him: “We were never there.”

The two then lied about their whereabouts, but Kennedy later came forward with the truth.

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Braun faces a maximum of three years and eight months in state prison for the beatings. Superior Court Judge John H. Reid scheduled sentencing for Oct. 25.


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