Last month, a judge sentenced Los Angeles Police Officer Richard Garcia to two years of probation for his assault of an African American man that was caught on camera. Prosecutors had even taken the rare step of filing a criminal charge against Garcia, who had kicked, punched and elbowed a man as he was held down. The incident took place on a street in South Los Angeles and his deal with prosecutors has drawn criticism for being too lenient, because the felony charge he received normally carries a maximum sentence of three years behind bars. Matt Johnson, president of the civilian panel that oversees the Los Angeles Police Department, stated:
Mr. Garcia’s actions were an embarrassment to the LAPD and to the hardworking men and women of the department who do honor to our motto of ‘To protect and to serve.’
A report that was released last month regarding Garcia’s case recommended that he spend a year in jail and serve three years of probation. Because Garcia had a clean record, the district attorney’s office gave him the opportunity to have his charge reduced to a misdemeanor if he followed all laws, completed community service, donated $500 to a charity, and stayed away from the man he assaulted before his sentencing. The district attorney’s office defended the outcome of the case because they also took into consideration the victim’s own criminal case, for which he is facing life in prison on charges of kidnapping and rape, when they tried to figure out a resolution for Garcia’s assault charge. Garcia is currently on unpaid leave as he awaits a disciplinary hearing, which could result in his firing, according to LAPD Chief Charlie Beck.
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