Ex-Officer Gets 7-15 in Beating - Slaying

Tuesday, May 16th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

DETROIT (AP) — A former police officer convicted in the 1992 beating death of black motorist Malice Green was sentenced to seven to 15 years in prison Tuesday.

Larry Nevers was convicted of involuntary manslaughter last month at his second trial. His first conviction, for second-degree murder, was thrown out in 1997 after a federal judge determined the jury had been prejudiced.

Before Wayne County Circuit Judge Ulysses Boykin handed down the sentence — with credit for time served of more than four years — Nevers asked for leniency, saying he was a model officer during his 24-year police career and encountered Green by mere fate.

``The remorse I feel about the death of Malice Green ... deals with the true enemy of the community: cocaine,'' Nevers said. ``Whether Malice Green's family believes it or not, I have great remorse that Malice Green died on my shift.''

Nevers and partner Walter Budzyn stopped Green, a 35-year-old unemployed steelworker, outside a suspected crack house in Detroit. Prosecutors say Nevers struck Green in the head 14 times with a heavy flashlight in a clear case of unreasonable force.

Attorneys for the two officers argued force was necessary to subdue Green, and said cocaine contributed to Green's death.

Although no testimony indicated race was a factor in Green's death, the incident was compared with the Rodney King beating in Los Angeles because Nevers and Budzyn are white and Green was black.

The federal judge who overturned Nevers' first conviction cited the jury's exposure to media speculation there could be rioting in Detroit if the officers were acquitted; and the jury's viewing of the movie ``Malcolm X,'' which has footage of the King beating, during a break in deliberations.

Budzyn, whose second-degree murder conviction was also overturned, was convicted in 1998 of involuntary manslaughter and sentenced to time served, about three years and eight months.

At Tuesday's sentencing, Sherry Green, Green's sister, read a statement on behalf of their mother, Patricia.

``I am amazed at the defendant's complete disregard for the truth and the pursuit to clear his name,'' she said, and asked the judge ``to send a message to this defendant and others who think as he does.''