Battle of Algiers

Three convicted, four acquitted

The three-week trial in Dallas of seven New Orleans police officers for violating the civil rights of four witnesses under interrogation would have set any jury's heads spinning. The prosecution laid out allegations of almost gestapo-style brutality; the defense countered with a description of police behavior that approached textbook perfection. Last week the jury in effect delivered a split judgment. While they found four officers innocent of all charges, they said three were guilty of both conspiracy, a felony, and beating a black witness under interrogation, a misdemeanor.

The case began on Nov. 8,1980, when a white police officer,...