Officer Acquitted in Police Brutality Case Caught on Tape

Monday, Jun 28, 2010  |  Updated 5:35 PM EDT
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The full surveillance video of Walter Harvin and housing cop David London in a July 2008 incident.  The trial began June 21, 2010.

The full surveillance video of Walter Harvin and housing cop David London in a July 2008 incident. The trial began June 21, 2010.

A New York City police officer was acquitted Monday of assaulting an unarmed, handcuffed Iraq war veteran and lying about the confrontation, which was caught on videotape.

David London, 45, sobbed as he heard the jury's verdict and left the courtroom with tears streaming down his face, hugging supporters.

London's trial was the second in as many months that offered video to rebut a police officer's account of a clash with a citizen. In both cases, defense lawyers suggested the videos didn't provide a full view of the provocation and danger the officers faced.

London, an officer for 16 years, confronted Harvin as the Army veteran walked into his mother's Manhattan apartment building without a key and declined to provide identification, the officer said.

Harvin shoved London, and the officer responded with a blast of pepper spray and a series of strikes from his baton, according to his testimony and silent security-camera video from the building's lobby.

After the first few hits knocked Harvin down, London continued hitting him as he covered his face and was, after struggling, handcuffed, the video shows. It shows Harvin moving his legs toward the officer at points.

London said Harvin kicked him and shouted threats that the officer said he feared would draw a hostile crowd.

"He was aggressive and violent," London testified. "I was trying to get him to comply."

But prosecutors said London went too far, and then compounded his misconduct with lies.

"Officer London beat on Walter Harvin far more than was necessary, and to then justify that beating, he made up facts," Assistant District Attorney David Drucker told jurors Friday.

Harvin was hit nearly 20 times; he emerged with cuts and bruises. London was treated at a hospital for a back injury and released.

Harvin didn't testify at London's trial. Prosecutors, his lawyer and his mother have said they don't know where he is. His mother and his lawyer have said Harvin suffers from post-traumatic stress syndrome that deepened after his encounter with London.

In another New York police-conduct case that focused on videotape, former NYPD rookie Patrick Pogan was convicted in April of lying about a Times Square confrontation that sent a pro-bicycling activist hurtling off his bike, as seen by millions of YouTube viewers. Pogan was acquitted of assault and harassment charges, however.

Pogan faces up to four years in prison at his sentencing, set for July 14.

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