July 2, 2009 6:10 AM
LAPD Says No Officers Fired for May Day Melee
LAPD officers using their batons on protestors at an immigration rally on May 1, 2007, in MacArthur Park, Los Angeles.
(AP Photo/Chad K. Uyeno)
LOS ANGELES (CBS/AP) None of the Los Angeles police officers who pummeled protesters with batons and opened fire with rubber bullets at a 2007 May Day pro-immigration rally at MacArthur Park will be fired, officials said.
A total of 42 people were injured at the rally, including nine journalists.
The city paid out $13 million to settle nine lawsuits filed on behalf of nearly 300 people after the May 1, 2007 rally, where police dispersed crowds by beating people with batons and firing at them with beanbag rounds and rubber bullets.
Police Chief William Bratton had asked for the firing of four officers but said Tuesday that the stiffest penalty imposed by the department disciplinary board was a 20-day suspension for one officer.
Under the city's charter, the chief does not have the authority to remove an officer, he can only send them to a three-person disciplinary panel called a Board of Rights, which decides on punishment.
"Ultimately it is up to the board, and that has been the way it has been for generations," Bratton said.
Attorneys for protesters and journalists at the park that day found the punishments far too lenient.
"That's a slap on the wrist," said attorney Luis Carrillo, who represented 40 of the demonstrators who sued the city. "That just adds insult to injury."
Bratton refused to criticize the penalties.
"I never comment on board decisions because it might have a chilling effect on my command staff personnel who sit on those boards," he said.
Each officer gets a separate disciplinary board made up of two commanders from the department and one civilian.
Of the four officers accused of using excessive force that Bratton recommended for termination, one was found guilty of unauthorized force, conduct unbecoming an officer and misleading statements. He was given a 20-day suspension. Another was charged with seven incidents of unauthorized force and was found guilty of two of them. He got a 12-day suspension.
The other two officers received only official reprimands.
Deputy Chief Mark Perez reported the results to the Police Commission. Perez said the officers repeatedly cited a lack of training in their defense.
The department, citing personnel policy, has not named any of the officers.
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