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BEATING VICTIM POSED A THREAT, DEFENSE SAYS

Police beating victim Rodney King was portrayed by the defense as a laughing, profane, blood-spitting threat whose behavior led one officer to say: "I thought I was going to have to shoot him."

The defense began its case Wednesday in the trial of four Los Angeles policemen, trying to show that force was justified.Sgt. Stacey Koon, 41, and Officers Laurence Powell, 29, Timothy Wind, 31, and Theodore Briseno, 39, are charged with assault.

Both prosecution and defense witnesses have described King as laughing and clowning when he was pulled over after a high-speed chase.

The March 3, 1991, clubbing of King by baton-wielding officers was videotaped by a bystander. Its broadcast sparked nationwide outrage over police brutality.

Officer Susan Clemmer, who arrived as the beating ended and rode in an ambulance with King, said he cursed at officers.