Los Angeles Mayor James Hahn’s citizens commission to examine the televised beating of a suspect got off to a rough start yesterday when its most outspoken member resigned and some city officials questioned whether the panel is needed, reports the Los Angeles Times. Najee Ali, founder of Project Islamic Hope, was one of 11 people chosen by Hahn to review the investigations of the incident, in which an officer was videotaped kicking at the suspect and striking him 11 times with a flashlight. Ali stepped down after some city officials expressed doubts about whether he should serve because he is awaiting trial on charges of identity theft and leaving the scene of a car accident.
Hahn and Police Chief William Bratton are trying to quell public criticism over last week’s beating. The commission naming “was clearly political,” said City Councilman Dennis Zine, a former police sergeant. “It’s an attempt to appease certain people in the African American community.” Hours before Ali and the others were named to the panel Bratton described Ali as “one of the biggest nitwits in Los Angeles.” He told CNN, “That nitwit that you were interviewing, basically, you’re doing a disservice to your viewership and a disservice to the citizens of this city by putting him on camera.” Bratton has since apologized.