The Los Angeles City Council approved a $500,000 settlement last week for Los Angeles resident Clinton Alford, who was repeatedly kicked and punched and at one point spat on by an LAPD officer during a 2014 arrest. Officer Richard Garcia was charged with felony assault last year and pleaded no contest, but never served actual jail time due to a plea agreement with prosecutors, compelling him to community service and a $500 donation to (an unspecified) charity. The felony assault charge was reduced to a misdemeanor in May.
Though the settlement brings closure to the incident said Alford’s attorney Caree Harper, it isn’t enough to erase the trauma he experienced on October 16 two years ago.
“My client feels that there is no amount that will compensate him for being SPAT on and beaten by a peace officer sworn to uphold the law,” said Harper.
“He hopes Chief Beck will not allow Garcia back on the force.”
Officers involved in the incident said they pursued Alford because he fit the description of a robbery suspect. A nearby surveillance camera captured the incident, which involved Alford initially running but then surrendering and subsequently being restrained by officers while Garcia battered him. Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck said last year he was “shocked” by the video and recommended the district attorney file criminal charges.
However, Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey defended the plea deal, saying prosecutors generally look at a range of information including the seriousness of the victim’s injuries, whether the defendant has a prior record and the credibility of the witnesses.
“I understand how in looking at the final result, someone may think that it wasn’t a just sentence,” Lacey told reporters.
“But they simply don’t have all the information that we did when we made the final decision.”
Garcia is still employed by the LAPD according to a report by the City News Service, though he has remained at home, away from work, pending a disciplinary hearing.
“It is Mr. Alford’s desire to have his civil rights case used as an example for the pressing need for independent prosecutors in the county of Los Angeles, a prosecutor who is not bound by some hidden allegiance to go lightly on officers who violate the trust of the community with the use of excessive force,” said Harper, possibly alluding to Lacey’s decision.
“He and his family were never given a moments peace the minute after he was beaten by this officer. They were relentlessly harassed, surveilled and threatened by LAPD. This tactic is more and more common on a victims/survivors of excessive force.”