Prosecutors trying four white officers charged in a notorious police brutality incident have rested their case without calling the alleged victim - black motorist Rodney King - who was expected to be their most important witness.
Although prosecutors originally had intended to call more than 200 witnesses, they finished presenting their case Tuesday to the jury of six men and six women after bringing only 19 to the stand.On Tuesday, the final two witnesses were Los Angeles police detectives who investigated the March 3, 1991, incident in which King was beaten, kicked and hit with stun-gun darts by police officers after a high speed chase in the northern San Fernando Valley.
The four officers - Sgt. Stacey Koon, 41; Theodore Briseno, 39; Laurence Powell, 29; and Timothy Wind, 31 - are on trial for assault with a deadly weapon and excessive force for the beating during the traffic stop.
In addition to the assault and excessive force charges, Koon and Powell are charged with filing false police reports.
Before the jurors were dismissed for the day, they watched the infamous videotape made by a bystander that was broadcast repeatedly on television news reports. The images astonished viewers around the world and set off heated disputes between Los Angeles city officials, prompting an appeal court to order the highly publicized trial moved to this eastern Ventura County bedroom community.
The jury has seen the tape about 10 times since the trial began March 5, but it has rarely been shown in its entirety.
The 81-second videotape, which shows officers clubbing King with their batons at least 56 times, has been considered the state's best piece of physical evidence against the four officers. However, defense attorneys also have used the video to attempt to show the officers' force was justified or was less severe than it appeared to be.
Defense attorneys were scheduled to begin their cases on Wednesday.