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APPEALS COURT PANEL SAYS SENTENCES FOR KING’S ATTACKERS ARE TOO LENIENT

SHARE APPEALS COURT PANEL SAYS SENTENCES FOR KING’S ATTACKERS ARE TOO LENIENT

The prison sentences given two Los Angeles policemen convicted of civil rights violations in the beating of motorist Rodney King were too lenient, a federal appeals court panel ruled Friday.

The ruling by a three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals would more than double the 2 1/2-year sentences given to Sgt. Stacey Koon and officer Laurence Powell.The court did not specify new sentences, leaving that decision to U.S. District Judge John Davies, who presided over the trial. But under standards set by the court, federal guidelines call for 70 to 87 months in prison. The two men began serving their sentences last October.

The ruling said Davies improperly reduced the sentences by finding that the officers were vulnerable to abuse in prison, that they posed no danger to the public, that they had been burdened by state and federal prosecutions, and that they were provoked by King's misconduct.

None of those factors justifies a reduction, the court said.

The ruling left Powell "sick to his stomach, just like I am," said his trial lawyer, Michael Stone.

Steve Lerman, one of King's lawyers in his civil damage lawsuits over the beating, said a longer sentence for the officers "doesn't help Rodney King get over the horrible injuries that he suffered and continues to suffer."

But, he added, "the fact that these officers were sentenced in a lenient fashion, as many people in the community so think, has further disrupted the sense of trust people, especially people in the minority community, have in the system of justice."

King, a black motorist stopped for speeding, was beaten by white police in a March 1991 incident that was videotaped by a bystander.