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Above the Law. The Rodney King Beating. King suffered 56 blows from 3 officers, and was tased twice 2 officers struck King with their batons, a 3 rd kicked King while he was on the ground 23 officers on the scene

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the rodney king beating
The Rodney King Beating
  • King suffered 56 blows from 3 officers, and was tased twice
  • 2 officers struck King with their batons, a 3rd kicked King while he was on the ground
  • 23 officers on the scene
  • The 3 who had used force on King plus and the Sgt on scene were indicted on charges of excessive force, but were acquitted by a jury about a year later.
riots following rodney king verdict
Riots following Rodney King verdict

Damage was extensive:

  • 53 deaths
  • 2,383 injuries
  • 7,000 + fires
  • Damage to more than 3,100 businesses
  • Over 1 billion in financial loses
simi valley acquittal
Simi Valley Acquittal

What explains this?

  • America is 2 nations: one is cosmopolitan and multicultural, dealing w/crime, disorder, poverty, homelessness; the other is unicultural and suburban
  • Juries are not fact-finders, but instead are allowed to interpret (and nullify!) evidence
  • The officers beat King in the 1st America, but were tried in the 2nd
an aberration
An “Aberration”

Was this an aberration as Chief Gates claimed ?

Why not?

Long line of problem before King:

  • LAPD paid out millions in civil suits annually
  • Larez case
  • Brutality bar
  • Code of silence

Key point: not the work of a few bad officers; there were 23 on the scene. This suggests a deviant organizational culture.

the causes
The causes

What factors explain the King beating?

  • High speed chases represent defiance of police authority
  • LAPD mentality: cops rewarded for proactive and aggressive crime control
  • Racism and bias
  • Lack of accountability: civil service protection of the Police Chief
police brutality excessive force
Police Brutality/Excessive Force

What is it?

  • A conscious and venal act committed by officers who take great pains to conceal their misconduct
  • Important to distinguish excessive force from unnecessary force.
  • Unnecessary force: when officers unwisely charge into situations from which they can then extricate themselves only by using force
trends in brutality
Trends in Brutality

Has police brutality increased or decreased over time in US police departments?

  • Decreased


  • Supreme Court rulings have curtailed certain police practices
  • Increased political power or racial minorities
  • Police leadership increasingly concerned with misconduct and has become better at combating it.
costs of brutality
Costs of brutality

(1) Lack of trust in police

  • People no longer call or come forward

(2) Lack of police credibility

  • Citizens no longer believe police testimony
journal entries
Journal Entries

How do I summarize these chapters?

  • Distill key points from text: lots of detailed stories and the like here, but all are used to illustrate a key point. The points should go in your journal, not the details of stories or examples.
  • Can use chapter subheadings too