A former Inglewood, Ca., police officer fired after he was videotaped hitting a black teenager expressed vindication by a $1.6-million jury award for wrongful termination, the Los Angeles Times reports. Police agencies that are trying to be more vigilant about excessive-force charges assessed how the judgment would affect the way they discipline officers.
When the video surfaced three years ago, some compared Inglewood officer Jeremy Morse and his partner to the Los Angeles officers who beat Rodney King. But two juries deadlocked on whether the images of Morse slamming a black teenager onto his police cruiser and punching him in the face showed a crime. On Tuesday, a jury awarded Morse $1.6 million, saying the decision to fire him was racial discrimination. Some experts believe the award might make police departments, which have been accused of being soft on officers accused of excessive force, think twice about discipline. “It could have a cautionary effect on how departments approach the issue of discipline,” said Loyola law Prof. Laurie Levinson. “It’s an odd case, but departments can’t bet that the next one won’t be odd as well.”