LAPD Cop Acquitted on Felony Charges for Beating Man with Baton
A Los Angeles police officer was found not guilty for repeatedly bashing a man over the head with his baton while trying to arrest him.
Jonathan Lai was acquitted Monday of one felony count of assault by a police officer and another felony count of assault with a deadly weapon, according to the Los Angeles Times.
“The jurors had to agree that my client was objectively reasonable,” said defense attorney Ira Salzman.
Lai, 32, allegedly struck a man at a restaurant near the Staples Center on April 15, 2012. Some of the incident was captured by surveillance footage, which led to the charges against him in 2014.
That footage, however, has not been released to the public.
Lai said he and another officer approached the man just to warn him about drinking alcohol out in public, but the man became belligerent with Lai when he was forced to kneel down to get arrested. When he sprung up and attempted to fight the officers, allegedly Lai used his baton to interfere.
The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office came away a different opinion of what took place that day, saying the video footage “shows Lai repeatedly using his police baton to strike the man who was on his knees with his hands on his head,” according to a statement released back in 2014.
After Lai used his baton to knock the man out, his partner tasered the man.
“If you can use the taser, you can use the baton,” Salzman said, explaining that prior to this incident Lai had never used his baton on duty.
“Typically officers acting guilty will underestimate,” Salzman said. “He knew there was a video camera there. He did nothing to act in any deceitful way.”
Lai’s attorney said it would not be fair to Lai to be judged just on the video footage, adding that Lai did not know if the man had a weapon or not.
Lai, who has been on unpaid suspension since last year, will now go before department’s Board of Rights, which will determine if he violated the man’s rights.