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Teen testifies he can't recall much of arrest caught on tape

Friday, July 11, 2003

LOS ANGELES -- A teenager who was punched by a police officer and slammed onto a squad car while handcuffed testified at the officer's trial Thursday that he could not remember many details of his arrest and passed out after an officer choked him.

Donovan Jackson, who was 16 at the time, said he was afraid of the officers when he first saw them because one had his hand on his gun.

He said he felt it was wrong that they asked him to get in their police car because he hadn't done anything wrong.

"Donovan, did you understand why any of this was happening to you?" said prosecutor Michael Kenneth Pettersen.

"No," said Jackson, now 17. He spoke haltingly in a low voice and appeared confused by many of the questions, asking attorneys to repeat them.

A bystander's videotape of the violent arrest of the black youth by the white officer triggered condemnations by black leaders, but the prosecutor made no mention of race in his opening statement Wednesday.

Assault charge

Jackson was testifying in the case against fired Inglewood officer Jeremy Morse, 25, who is charged with assault under color of authority. His former partner, Bijan Darvish, 26, who was suspended, is charged with filing a false report. Each could face up to three years in prison if convicted.

Jackson and his father, Coby Chavis, were stopped at an Inglewood gas station by Los Angeles County sheriff's deputies on July 6, 2002, because their car had expired tags. Morse and Darvish arrived as Chavis was being questioned.

Defense attorneys say Jackson was to blame because he attacked an officer, was punched because he grabbed an officer's groin after he was handcuffed, and later told differing stories about whether he was unconscious when he fell.

Attorney John Barnett, who represents Morse, tried to show Jackson was an unreliable witness because he couldn't remember details of what happened between the time he was on the ground and placed in the police car.

Barnett suggested that Donovan's testimony that he hadn't done anything to provoke the incident was illogical.

After Jackson testified he never touched the officers during the struggle on the ground, Barnett showed photos of a scratch on Morse's neck and the officer's bloody ear. Jackson denied inflicting the injuries.

Barnett asked if they could have occurred in the time he claims to have been unconscious.

Jackson told Pettersen he was not conscious when he was moved from the ground to the car, but later told Barnett he was awake at the time. A possible explanation for the discrepancy came when he told Barnett he did not know the meaning of the word "conscious," which the attorneys had used.

The teenager's relatives have said he didn't respond to the officers immediately because he is developmentally disabled.


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