This article titled “California Democrats endorse former LA officer sued for beating black motorist” was written by Nicky Woolf in Los Angeles and Ben Jacobs, for theguardian.com on Tuesday 8th March 2016 02.13 UTC
The California Democratic party has endorsed a former LAPD officer, who was previously sued for allegedly beating a black man following a traffic stop, in a race for a congressional seat.
According to the complaint, which was filed against him in 2001, Lou Vince, a former lieutenant in the Los Angeles Police Department, stopped Cecil Miller, who was driving with his pregnant wife and three young children in the car.
Vince then accused Miller of running over his foot, the complaint alleges, continuing that he and his partner Doug Gallick then pulled him from the car and “proceeded to slam plaintiff against his vehicle over and over”.
They then threw him to the sidewalk, the complaint states, and “as plaintiff was falling one officer held him up and the other began to punch him in the face.”
Miller suffered serious contusions to the side of his face.
Miller was charged with assaulting a police officer, but was acquitted. He then filed a lawsuit against Vince in federal court, which was settled for $150,000 in damages.
Vince is running in the Democratic primary for California’s 25th district, in the northern part of Los Angeles County. The seat is currently held by a Republican, Steve Knight, but is considered a “tough, yet winnable” target seat for Democrats in 2016, according to a campaign memo by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. He was endorsed by the state Democratic party on 29 February.
Eric Bauman, the Los Angeles County Democratic party chair and vice-chair of the California Democratic Party said in a statement that he was “incredibly troubled” by the allegations against Vince.
“We must evaluate the facts to understand what occurred. If accurate, the alleged actions are unacceptable for any police officer, especially one who is a Democratic candidate for Congress,” Bauman continued, adding that he would confer with party leadership to determine the next step.
Vince has downplayed the suit. “People can allege anything they want to allege,” he told LA Weekly. “He tried to drive away and ran over my foot. He finally got out of the car and got into it with my partner. They got into a fight. Ultimately I went to his legs, and he went down to his knees … My partner was the one that hit him. I didn’t hit him at all.”
“There was no evidence we did anything wrong,” Vince continued. “I think people will realize that if I spent 21 years on the streets of Los Angeles and I got one guy making outlandish allegations against me, I’m probably doing well.” He said that he and Gallick were “exonerated” by an internal LAPD investigation.
The Vince campaign did not respond to a request by the Guardian for comment.
“Our community is rife with justified anger and frustration over aggressive and often unlawful actions by police officers against African Americans, as evidenced by the ongoing investigation by the Department of Justice,” said Darren Parker, the chair of the California Democratic party African-American Caucus, in a statement.
“I will work with both California Democratic party and the Los Angeles County Democratic party leadership to demand that we make an appropriate response.”
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