Fete Planned for Former Officer Powell : Benefit: Politicians hope to raise $25,000 for policeman convicted in Rodney G. King beating.


The evening after former Los Angeles Police Officer Laurence M. Powell--convicted in the videotaped beating of Rodney G. King--is to be released from a halfway house, he will be honored at a “homecoming welcome” fund-raiser hosted by an array of conservative politicians.

The dinner, scheduled for Dec. 14 in a private banquet hall at the Los Angeles Police Academy, is prompting criticism from civil rights activists concerned that the lawmakers--including county Supervisor Mike Antonovich, presidential candidate Rep. Robert K. Dornan (R-Garden Grove) and state Sen. Richard Mountjoy (R-Arcadia)--are supporting a convicted felon.

“It’s offensive and incredibly stupid for public officials to become involved in a welcome home fund-raising dinner like this,” said Ramona Ripston, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California. “It’s particularly stupid when the racial divide is so large and confidence in the police is so low.”


But Antonovich, the event’s “homecoming chairman,” said his office received more than 100 calls Friday from constituents supporting his fund-raising role, and only a handful of critical calls.

“Our phone messages are about 30 to 1 in support,” said the supervisor, who is seeking reelection in 1996. “Many legal experts agree that the Powell case was a case of double jeopardy. . . . I believe it was a complete miscarriage of justice.”

A similar fund-raiser for Powell held at the Police Academy in June raised about $20,000, according to Richard Delgaudio, the president of the Washington-based Legal Affairs Council, a conservative legal defense fund that has organized both banquets.

Powell and former LAPD Sgt. Stacey C. Koon were convicted in August, 1993, of violating King’s constitutional rights and each was given a 30-month prison sentence.

The federal convictions followed not guilty verdicts in state court, in which Powell, Koon and two other officers were charged with assault and excessive use of force in the King beating. The verdicts in 1992 touched off days of deadly rioting and led to the federal charges.