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Three officers investigated for excessive force in LAPD videotaped beating

LOS ANGELES (AP) _ Three officers involved in the videotaped beating of an unarmed black man during an arrest will be investigated for excessive use of force, Police Chief William Bratton said.

A total of eight officers have been placed on desk duty as the FBI and the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department investigate, Bratton said Thursday. The LAPD also has started an internal probe which Bratton vowed would be fair and open.

``We'll get into this we'll look at it in every way we can,'' Bratton told NBC's ``Today'' show on Friday. ``Certainly as you look at that video, the average person looks at that and says 'Oh My God.'''

Still, the chief urged the public to withhold judgment until the investigations are complete. He said the officers were trying to get control of a suspect who had not been searched for firearms.

Officer John Hatfield, 35, appeared to hit Stanley Miller 11 times with a flashlight after the man had surrendered following a car chase. Miller, 36, was not seriously hurt but complained of being struck in the head and had a bruised cheek, police said.

Mayor James Hahn said any officer found to have committed a crime will be fired and prosecuted.

``We've worked too hard to build our relationship with the community to have it jeopardized by thoughtless actions of a few,'' he said.

The violent arrest, captured Wednesday by a TV news helicopter, quickly drew comparisons to the 1991 beating of Rodney King, but Bratton and Hahn said much has changed. For one thing, Hahn said, reforms now mandate an independent investigation.

``We have to assure the public that this is a new LAPD, the old LAPD is gone and we're not going to tolerate this kind of excessive force,'' Hahn told NBC.

Hatfield, 35, identified as Hispanic, is one of the three officers being investigated for excessive force.

``I got nothing to say to you guys,'' Hatfield told the Los Angeles Times on Thursday. He directed questions to his attorney and the Los Angeles Police Protective League.

Hank Hernandez, general counsel for the league, told the Times that the police union was concerned that ``influential people in the community and the media will express opinions based on their review of a videotape that is not based on the entire facts of the incident.''

Hatfield was involved in a shooting last year. He fired a single shot at a man who pointed a shotgun at him and his partner and the uninjured suspect was arrested, the department said.
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