Suspect in taped arrest is released
The man who was repeatedly punched by a Los Angeles police officer on a video circulated on the Internet struck a plea bargain Wednesday and was released from jail.
William Cardenas, 23, pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor charge of resisting, delaying or obstructing an officer. He had been in custody since his arrest Aug. 11, after he ran from police in Hollywood, who said he had been drinking a beer in public.
Video of the arrest posted on YouTube.com showed Cardenas lying on his back and taking punches to the face from one officer as another officer sat on his stomach. In exchange for his plea to the misdemeanor, prosecutors dropped two felony charges of resisting officers.
Cardenas’ lawyer, B. Kwaku Duren, said he had offered the plea bargain to prosecutors two months ago but had not heard back from them. He attributed the plea agreement to the publicity stemming from the video.
Asked whether the video had led to the deal, Deputy Dist. Atty Michael Yglecias said: “I would be lying if I said it didn’t. Obviously it was part of the evidence we considered.”
LAPD Chief William J. Bratton told Patt Morrison in an interview on KPCC-FM (89.3) that he did not think the release of the video, and the widespread exposure that followed, had an effect on Cardenas’ getting a reduction in charges.
“Not at all,” he said. “If anything, the video would show he resisted arrest.”
Bratton said plea bargains were “something done in the majority of cases in Los Angeles,” he said. “I think it’s probably an effort on the part of Mr. Cardenas to get out of jail.”
Bratton noted that a judge had previously held Cardenas over for trial. “Police work is never pretty, particularly when you have people resisting arrest,” the chief said.
He added that the district attorney’s office was continuing its criminal investigation of the matter and that the LAPD was continuing the administrative investigation to see if the department had complied with its own policy.
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