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Inglewood Police Officers Arraigned

Aired July 18, 2002 - 14:08   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: More now on that California case that is once again raising the issue of police brutality and race. An Inglewood police officer is in court to answer to an assault charge now, and it stems from this violent arrest, as you see here, of an African-American teen.

Our Frank Buckley is live from Los Angeles with more on this -- Frank.

FRANK BUCKLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Kyra, we are talking about Officer Jeremy Morse. He will be arraigned very shortly here in Department 100 of the Criminal Courts Building, along with another Inglewood police officer, his name, Bijan Darvish. Both of them part of that incident, the arrest of Donovan Jackson and his father, Coby Chavis, part of that arrest captured on videotape.

Of course, most of the attention has been on Jeremy Morse. Last night when we found out that the indictment was being handed up, we had a chance to talk to John Barnett, who is the attorney for Jeremy Morse. We asked him during the course of our interview about the specific incident that has been captured on videotape.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOHN BARNETT, MORSE'S ATTORNEY: What happens is this: Donovan Jackson is lifted up, and my client expects that he will straighten his legs and walk to the police car. He does not do that. He goes limp. When he goes limp, my client has the full weight of Donovan Jackson in his arms, and he then has two choices: drop him to ground, knowing he is handcuffed, or throw him on the police car.

He takes the only action that he can reasonably take, and that is to throw him on the police car. Now, he is not completely balanced when he does that, and he forces him onto the police car, because that's the only thing that he can do. Thereafter, Donovan Jackson -- Donovan grabs his testicles, and he is punched.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BUCKLEY: Still, a grand jury thought that there was enough there for an indictment on the assault under color of authority, and the arraignment is beginning. We'll take you inside the courtroom Department 100 right now.

PHILLIPS: Are we going to go into the courtroom? There we go -- live pictures now.

(IN PROGRESS)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Morse, you are charged in Count One with the violation of Penal Code Section 149, assault by a peace officer under color of authority. Mr. Darvish, you are charged in Count Two of this indictment with the violation of Penal Code Section 118.1, filing a false report, both felonies.

Counsel, do you wave further reading of the indictment (AUDIO GAP).

BUCKLEY: I can't hear.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (AUDIO GAP) transferred back to the Southwest District where the crimes allegedly occurred (AUDIO GAP).

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... you have selected August 13, and that the parties will (AUDIO GAP). Is that date agreeable, Mr. Barnett?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And with the people?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, your honor.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All right. Gentlemen, each of you have the right to have a speedy trial...

BUCKLEY: It appears as though the -- what has happened is that the case has been reassigned. We are trying to listen in, as you are, but -- OK, we have the audio now.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And Mr. Darvish?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, your honor.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK. Let me also indicate that the entry of the plea today, since counsel just received the indictment (AUDIO GAP) is it agreeable with each of you that the matter be set for pretrial and trial setting conference on August 13, 2002. That will be at 8:30 a.m. in Department O of the Southwest District in Inglewood with the understanding that the people on the court would have 60 days from that date within which to start the trial. Is that agreeable, Mr. Morse?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, sir.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And Mr. Darvish?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you join, Mr. Barnett?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And Mr. Brower?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you. With regard to bail, what's the people's request?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, your honor, we are asking that court set bail on the scheduled amount of $25,000 as to each defendant.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And it's my understanding, counsel, that your clients are prepared to post that bail today.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All right. I will set bail at $25,000 as to each defendant. I'll give them until 4:30 today to post that bond with the court.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: May (UNINTELLIGIBLE) motions be reserved also, your honor?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. Any other motions will be reserved, and the transfer to the Southwest District is without prejudice to the right of any party to seek the transfer or change of venue.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you, your honor.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is there anything further this morning?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, your honor, thank you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All right. Thank you. Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Your honor, there is a further request. I am sorry. Will the court please order each of the defendants to appear on the 16th floor of this building for the booking process?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: After you have posted bond, Mr. Morse and Mr. Darvish, you are directed to go to the 16th floor for the purposes of booking. The arrest warrants being held until today's date are recalled. The indictment is ordered unsealed.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you.

BUCKLEY: So with that, what has happened is that two officers, Jeremy Morse, a 3-year veteran of the Inglewood Police Department, and Bijan Darvish, a 2-year veteran of the department, have both been arraigned. Jeremy Morse arraigned on the charge of assault under color of authority. That carries a potential sentence of three years in state prison and a $10,000 fine. Bijan Darvish, the 2-year veteran, indicted and now arraigned on the charge of filing a false report. They will now -- this case has been transferred to Inglewood. That is the jurisdiction where this took place. I am told that there is only one judge in Inglewood who can hear felonies. So potentially it could come back, but for the moment, it has been transferred there. The trial date hasn't been set, but the next court date is set for August 13.

Now, both of the -- both of the officers will be booked, and then they will both post bail of $25,000. And if they do post that bail, they will both be released to go home -- Kyra.

PHILLIPS: All right, Frank. Sorry about that audio problem that we had there, but it sounds like you were OK in getting all of the information. We appreciate you kind of flying with us there. Frank Buckley, thank you so much.

All right, let's bring in our CNN legal analyst, Jeffrey Toobin, once again. We go from the Moussaoui case now to what has happened, a lot of things happening today sort of at the last minute.

Jeffrey, let's talk about this. You heard what Frank laid out. I had a hard time hearing the audio, so I apologize. We had some technical problems. What's the next move for both of these officers?

JEFFERY TOOBIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: It was a pretty routine arraignment. They just set the next date for the case to proceed.

The interesting point in the context of Los Angeles was that the case was transferred back to Inglewood, where the offense took place. Obviously, the great parallel in this case is to the Rodney King case in 1991. There, people may remember, because of pretrial publicity, the case was transferred out to Simi Valley, a very distant part of Los Angeles County, where the jury pool was much more white, and of course, the officers were acquitted, setting off the infamous riots.

What -- transferring the case back to Inglewood at least establishes at the beginning, and it may change, that this case will be tried in the community where the young man was assaulted. And I think there's going to be a lot of pressure to keep it there and not move it anywhere else.

PHILLIPS: You know, we've -- the comparisons between this case and Rodney King, that's been raised. We have seen the protests. We've heard words like "corrupt" and "racist," etcetera. But as you look at this case, this isn't going to come down to corruption, is it? I mean, is this just about poor training and a bad decision that was made sort of at the last minute or a reaction to an alleged fight that was breaking out?

TOOBIN: We just don't know. I mean, that's what is so striking about these cases, where videotape is involved. Once we all see the videotape, we think, oh, we know everything there is to know. But here, we have the claim by the defense that, in fact, young Mr. Jackson tried to attack the officer, squeezed -- you know, squeezed him in the groin, and that the officer was defending himself. That's going to be an issue presumably for the jury to decide whether that's true. If it's true, well, then the officer has a pretty good defense. If it's not true, he doesn't have any defense at all.

But when you first see the videotape, you don't know what the officer is going to say. Now, we know what he is going to say, and we will see whether a jury or -- a jury believes him.

PHILLIPS: Our legal analyst, Jeffrey Toobin -- thanks again, Jeffrey.

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