Jurors almost brawled, then found unanimity One juror reveals reasoning, events

April 19, 1993|By Orange County Register

The arguing got so heated on the fifth day of deliberations, the jurors in the Rodney King trial almost came to blows, according to a juror.

The Fullerton, Calif., resident -- designated juror 11 during the trial -- described yesterday how the jury reached its historic verdict -- including the stressful day when one male juror's blood pressure zoomed up, forcing him to see his doctor.

"It was one of those days when everything just blew up," the 55-year-old man said. "We had been there for 40 days, trying to be nice to each other and that day it just broke up . . . We argued, screamed, almost took swings at each other."

He said that Wednesday proved to be the turning point for the eight men and four women.

Until then, the juror said, he and his colleagues seemed irreversibly deadlocked on at least half the federal charges.

But when the 12 returned to the deliberating quarters in the federal courthouse at 8 a.m. Thursday, they were ready to agree on the historic verdict convicting two of the officers and acquitting the other two.

The juror gave some insight into the jury's deliberations:

* Jurors sympathized with Mr. King and were disgusted with a defense attorney who tried to embarrass him.

* The jury disliked Sgt. Stacey Koon, the commanding officer and the only defendant who took the stand during the federal trial.

* The testimony of Officer Theodore Briseno, videotaped at a state trial last year, was damaging to the other defendants in the federal case and helped Officer Briseno "get off the hook."

* Rookie Officer Timothy Wind was acquitted because jurors felt he was following the sergeant's orders.

* Officer Lawrence Powell's mention of Mr. King's head wounds when calling an ambulance but omission of the term in his report contributed to his conviction.

But, without the amateur videotape shot the night of the beating, the case against the officers would have been impossible to prove.

"Without the tape there was nothing," the juror said.

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