Jurors in the trial of police officers charged in a videotaped beating heard a tape of one officer laughing as he requested an ambulance for a person with "numerous head wounds."
Superior Court Judge Stanley Weisberg said Wednesday there's enough circumstantial evidence to show the speaker was Laurence Powell, one of four white Los Angeles police officers charged with brutalizing a black motorist.Powell, 29, is on trial with Sgt. Stacey Koon, 41, and officers Theodore Briseno, 39, and Timothy Wind, 31. They could receive sentences ranging from four to eight years in prison if convicted of assault and related charges.
The report to the Los Angeles Police Department dispatcher was recorded minutes after Rodney King was beaten on a suburban street on March 3, 1991. The beating was videotaped by an onlooker and broadcast nationwide.
The audiotape begins with laughing and hard breathing. The officer is heard saying, "We need a RA (rescue ambulance) Foothill and Osborne, victim of ah, ah," and a voice in the background says, "beating."
"Yeah, numerous head wounds," says the officer, laughing.
Leshon Frierson, an LAPD radio operator on duty that night, testified that it was unusual to hear an officer laugh on the radio.
Prosecutors said the tape supported the testimony of California Highway Patrol Officers Melanie and Timothy Singer, who said they saw Powell hitting King in the head with a baton.
Powell's lawyer insists Powell hit King only in the arms and legs.
Powell is seen on the videotape talking into a radio as he stands a few feet away from King, who is sprawled on the ground. Prosecutors used that segment to support their assertion that it is Powell on the audiotape.