House members demand probe of police beatings

March 13, 1991|By Knight-Ridder News Service

WASHINGTON -- Black and Hispanic members of Congress demanded yesterday that federal officials look beyond a videotaped case of police brutality in Los Angeles and probe what they called a history of abuse in that police department and elsewhere.

Ten House Democrats, led by Representative John Conyers Jr. of Michigan, met for about an hour yesterday with FBI Director William S. Sessions. They said Mr. Sessions promised a thorough probe of the March 3 incident in Los Angeles, in which several Los Angeles police officers beat an unarmed man stopped for speeding. A civilian videotaped the incident.

When Mr. Sessions would not promise to conduct a wider investigation of police brutality in Los Angeles or other cities, the lawmakers vowed to press their case today with Attorney General Richard L. Thornburgh.

Mr. Conyers, chairman of the House Government Operations Committee, said yesterday that no appointment had been set but that he would go to Mr. Thornburgh's office today anyway. Mr. Thornburgh's office could not be reached for comment.

Mr. Sessions said the lawmakers "expressed their concerns, which were very clearly enunciated." He would not comment otherwise.

Mr. Conyers said members of congressional black and Hispanic caucuses were "absolutely horrified" at what he called "the most heinous, vicious, brutal police brutality case that has been recorded for all time."

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