Assault Charges Dropped Against Officer Morse In Donovan Jackson
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
February 6, 2004
INGLEWOOD, CALIFORNIA--Prosecutors have decided to drop charges against former Inglewood police officer Jeremy Morse -- who was accused of assaulting a teenager with developmental disabilities -- now that a second trial has ended in a hung jury.
The jury last week could not resolve a 6-6 deadlock. Morse's first trial last July also ended in a hung jury, with 7 jurors voting for conviction.
"I'm convinced that the chances of reaching a unanimous decision either way is virtually nil," said Superior Court Judge William Hollingsworth Jr as he dismissed the case Friday.
Morse was accused of using excessive and unnecessary force when he and Officer Bijan Darvish arrested Donovan Jackson on July 6, 2002. Jackson was being arrested for attacking the officers outside a convenience store after he had been asked to sit in a squad car while his father was issued a ticket for expired license tabs.
A videotape of the arrest, showing officer Morse slamming the hand-cuffed 16-year-old onto the back of a patrol car and repeatedly punching him in the face, was broadcast on television news stations around the world.
Morse was fired from the Inglewood Police Department and charged with assault. Darvish was suspended and charged with filing a false police report.
Jackson, now 18, testified in the second trial that he was sitting in the squad car, but got scared and stood up when he saw several officers running toward him. His family said the teenager may have responded slowly to officers' orders because of his disability.
Jackson also testified that the officers beat him, struck him with a flashlight and choked him until he passed out. He said he did not try to scratch, hit or kick any of the officers.
Defense attorney John Barnett pointed out several inconsistencies between Jackson's statements to a grand jury and his testimony during the trials.
The videotaped scene reminded many of the well-known 1991 police beating of Rodney King Jr. Four officers accused in King's videotaped beating were later acquitted, sparking violent riots in Los Angeles.
Morse, who is white, could have been sentenced to three years in prison if he had been convicted of assaulting Jackson, who is black.
"Donovan Jackson's Arrest" (Inclusion Daily Express Archives)